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THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://archive.org/details/oldsantaftrailstOOinma 




COLONEL HENRY INMAN. 

Late of the U. S. Array. 



FlSL 
.1 



THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 



The Story of a Great Highway 



BY 



COLONEL HENRY INMAN 

LATE ASSISTANT QUARTERMASTER, UNITED STATES ARMY 






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CRANE & COMPANY 

1899 

All rights reserved 



Copyright 1897, 
Bt THE MACMILLAN COMPANY. 



Assigned, 1899, 

TO 

CRANE & COMPANY, 

TOPEKA. 



(5rcss of Crane & Company, 



To 

honourable SEilltam jF. Coog 

"Buffalo Bill " 
Krjis l T Dlutnc is Sratcfullg EnsrribtJj 

AS A SLIGHT TRIBUTE TO A GENEROUS NATURE 
AND A NOBLE MANHOOD 



Topeka, Kansas, Feb. 13, 1897 



PREFACE 

As we look into the open fire for our fancies, so we are 
apt to study the dim past for the wonderful and sublime, 
forgetful of the fact that the present is a constant ro- 
mance, and that the happenings of to-day which we count 
of little importance are sure to startle somebody in the 
future, and engage the pen of the historian, philosopher, 
and poet. 

Accustomed as we are to think of the vast steppes of 
Russia' and Siberia as alike strange and boundless, and to 
deal with the unknown interior of Africa as an impene- 
trable mystery, we lose sight of a locality in our own 
country that once surpassed all these in virgin grandeur, 
in majestic solitude, and in all the attributes of a tremen- 
dous wilderness. 

The story of the Old Santa F^ Trail, so truthfully 
recalled by Colonel Henry Inman, ex-officer of the old 
Regular Army, in these pages, is a most thrilling one. 
The vast area through which the famous highwaj' ran is 
still imperfectly known to most people as " The West " ; 
a designation once appropriate, but hardly applicable now ; 
for in these days of easy communication the real trail 



Vlll PREFACE 

region is not so far removed from New York as Buffalo 
was seventy years ago. 

At the commencement of the " commerce of the prai- 
ries," in the early portion of the century, the Old Trail was 
the arena of almost constant sanguinary struggles between 
the wily nomads of the desert and the hardy white 
pioneers, whose eventful lives made the civilization of the 
vast interior region of our continent possible. Their 
daring compelled its development, which has resulted in 
the genesis of great states and large cities. Their hard- 
ships gave birth to the American homestead ; their deter- 
mined will was the factor of possible achievements, the 
most remarkable and important of modern times. 

When the famous highway was established across the 
great plains as a line of communication to the shores of 
the blue Pacifici, the only method of travel was by the 
slow freight caravan drawn by patient oxen, or the lum- 
bering stage coach with its complement of four or six 
mules. There was ever to be feared an attack by those 
devils of the desert, the Cheyennes, Comanches, and 
Kiowas. Along its whole route the remains of men, ani- 
mals, and the wrecks of camps and wagons, told a story 
of suffering, robbery, and outrage more impressive than 
any language. Now the tourist or business man makes 
the journey in palace cars, and there is nothing to remind 
him of the danger or desolation of Border days ; on every 
hand are the evidences of a powerful and advanced civ- 
ilization. 

It is fortunate that one is left to tell some of its story 
who was a living actor and had personal knowledge of 



PREFACE ix 

many of the thrilling scenes that were enacted along the 
line of the great route. He was familiar with all the 
famous men, both white and savage, whose lives have 
made the story of the Trail, his own sojourn on the- plains 
and in the Rocky Mountains extending over a period of 
nearly forty years. 

The Old Trail has more than common interest for me, 
and I gladly record here my indorsement of the faithful 
record, compiled by a brave soldier, old comrade, and 
friend. 

W. F. CODY, 

"BUFFALO BILL." 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

Preface by W. F. Cody ........ vii 



INTRODUCTION 

The First Europeans who traversed (;he- Great Highway — Alvar 
Nunez Cabeca de Vaca — Hernando de Soto, and Francisco Vas- 
quez de Coronado — Spanish Expedition from Santa F6 east- 
wardly — Escape of the Sole Survivors 



CHAPTER I 

Quaint Descriptions of Old Santa F£ — The Famous Adobe Palace 
— Santa F6 the Oldest Town in the United States — First Settle- 
ment — Onate's Conquest — Revolt of the Pueblo Indians — 
Under Pueblo Rule — Cruelties of the Victors — The Santa F6 
of To-day — Arrival of a Caravan — The Railroad reaches the 
Town — Amusements — A Fandango 12 



CHAPTER II 

The Beginning of the Santa Fe Trade — La Lande and Pursley, 
the First Americans to cross the Plains — Pursley's Patriotism 
— Captain Ezekiel Williams — A Hungry Bear — A Midnight- 
Alarm 27 



CHAPTER III 

Captain Becknell's Expedition — Sufferings from Thirst — Auguste 
Chouteau — Imprisonment of McKnight and Chambers — The 
Caches — Stampeding Mules — First Military Escort across the 
Plains — Captain Zebulon Pike — Sublette and Smith — Murder 
of McNess — Indians not the Aggressors 38 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER IV 



The Atajo or Pack-train of Mules — Mexican Nomenclature of Para- 
phernalia — Manner of Packing — The "Bell-mare" — Tough- 
ness of Mules among Precipices — The Caravan of Wagons — 
Largest Wagon-train ever on the Plains — Stampedes — Duties 
of Packers en route — Order of Travelling with Pack-train — 
Chris. Gilson, the Famous Packer ...... 55 



CHAPTER V 

Narrative of Bryant's Party of Santa Fe Traders — The First 
Wagon Expedition across the Plains — ■ A Thrilling Story of 
Hardship and Physical Suffering — Terrible Fight with the 
Comanches — Abandonment of the Wagons — On Foot over the 
Trail — Burial of their Specie on an Island in the Arkansas — 
Narrative of William Y. Hitt, one of the Party — His Encounter 
with a Comanche — The First Escort of United States Troops to 
the Annual Caravan of Santa F6 Traders, in 1829 — Major Ben- 
nett Riley's Official Report to the War Department — ■ Journal of 
Captain Cooke 67 



CHAPTER VI 

The Expedition of Texans to the Old Santa Fe' Trail for the Purpose 
of robbing Mexican Traders — Innocent Citizens of the United 
States suspected, arrested, and carried to the Capital of New 
Mexico — Colonel Snively's Force — Warfield's Sacking of the 
Village of Mora — Attack upon a Mexican Caravan — Kit 
Carson in the Fight — A Crime of over Sixty Years Ago — A 
Romance of the Tragedy 93 



CHAPTER VII 

Mexico declares War against the United States — Congress author- 
izes the President to call for Fifty Thousand Volunteers — Or- 
ganization of the Army of the West — Phenomenon seen by 
Santa F6 Traders in the Sky — First Death on the March of the 
Army across the Plains — Men in a Starving Condition — An- 
other Death — Burial near Pawnee Rock — Trouble at Pawnee 
Fork — Major Howard's Report ....... 102 



CONTENTS xiii 



CHAPTER VIII 

PAGE 

The Valley of Taos— First White Settler — Rebellion of the Mex- 
icans — A Woman discovers and informs Colonel Price of the 
Conspiracy — Assassination of Governor Bent— Horrible Butch- 
eries by the Pueblos and Mexicans — Turley's Ranch — Mur- 
der of Harwood and Markhead — ■ Anecdote of Sir -William 
Drummond Stewart — Fight at the Mills — -Battle of the Pueblo 
of Taos — Trial of the Insurrectionists — Baptiste, the Juror — 
Execution of the Rebels 113 

CHAPTER IX 

Independence — Opening of Navigation on the Mississippi — Effect 
of Water Transportation upon the Trade — Establishment of 
Trading-forts — Market for Cattle and Mules — Wages paid 
Teamsters on the Trail — An Enterprising Coloured Man — In- 
crease of the Trade at the Close of the Mexican War — Heavy 
Emigration to California — First Overland Mail — How the 
Guards were armed — Passenger Coaches to Santa Fe' — Stage- 
coaching Days 141 

CHAPTER X 

The Tragedy in the Canon of the Canadian — Dragoons follow the 
Trail of the Savages — Kit Carson, Dick Wooton, and Tom Tobin 
the Scouts of the Expedition — More than a Hundred of the 
Savages killed — Murder of Mrs. White — White Wolf — Lieu- 
tenant Bell's Singular Duel with the Noted Savage — Old Wolf 

— Satank — Murder of Peacock — Satanta made Chief — Kicking 
Bird — His Tragic Death — Charles Bent, the Half-breed Rene- 
gade — His Terrible Acts — His Death 160 

CHAPTER XI 

Neglect of New Mexico by the United States Government — Intended 
Conquest of the Province — Conspiracy of Southern Leaders — 
Surrender by General Twiggs to the Confederate Government of 
the Military Posts and Munitions of War under his Command 

— Only One Soldier out of Two Thousand deserts to the Enemy 

— Organization of Volunteers for the Defence of Colorado and 
New Mexico —Battle of La Glorieta — Rout of the Rebels . . 186 



XIV CONTENTS 



CHAPTER XII 

page 
The Ancient Range of the Buffalo — Number slaughtered in Thir- 
teen Years for their Robes alone — Buffalo Bones — Trains 
stopped by Vast Herds — Custom of Old Hunters when caught 
in a Blizzard — Anecdotes of Buffalo Hunting — Kit Carson's 
Dilemma — Experience of Two of Fremont's Hunters — Wounded 
Buffalo Bull — O'Neil's Laughable Experience — Organization 
of a Herd of Buffalo — Stampedes — Thrilling Escapes . . 202 



CHAPTER XIII 

Big Timbers — Winter Camp of the Cheyennes, Kiowas, and Ara- 
pahoes — Savage Amusements — A Cheyenne Lodge — Indian 
Etiquette — Treatment of Children — The Pipe of the North 
American Savage — Dog Feast — Marriage Ceremony . . 233 

CHAPTER XIV 

The Old Pueblo Fort — A Celebrated Rendezvous — Its Inhabitants 

— "Fontaine qui Bouille" — The Legend of its Origin — The 
Trappers of the Old Santa Fe' Trail and the Rocky Mountains — 
Beaver Trapping — Habits of the Beaver — Improvidence of the 
Old Trappers — Trading with, "Poor Lo " — The Strange Expe- 
rience of a Veteran Trapper on the Santa F6 Trail — Romantic 
Marriage of Baptiste Brown ....... 251 

CHAPTER XV 

Uncle John Smith — A Famous Trapper, Guide, and Interpreter — 
His Marriage with a Cheyenne Squaw — An Autocrat among 
the People of the Plains and Mountains — The Mexicans held 
him in Great Dread — His Wonderful Resemblance to President 
Andrew Johnson — Interpreter and Guide on General Sheridan's 
Winter Expedition against the Allied Plains Tribes — His Stories 
around the Camp-fire 278 

CHAPTER XVI 

Famous Men of the Old Santa Fe' Trail — Kit Carson — Jim Bridger 

— James P. Beckwourth — Uncle Dick Wooton — Jim Baker — 
Lucien B. Maxwell — Old Bill Williams — Tom Tobin — James 
Hobbs 314 



CONTENTS XV 



CHAPTER XVII 

PAGE 

Uncle Dick Wooton — Lucien B. Maxwell — Old Bill Williams — 
Tom Tobin — James Hobbs — William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill) . 341 

CHAPTER XVIII 

Maxwell's Ranch on the Old Santa Fe' Trail — A Picturesque Region 

— Maxwell a Trapper and Hunter with the American Fur Com- 
pany — Lifelong Comrade of Kit Carson — Sources of Maxwell's 
Wealth — Fond of Horse-racing — A Disastrous F'ourth-of-July 
Celebration — Anecdote of Kit Carson — Discovery of Gold on 
the Ranch — The Big Ditch — Issuing Beef to the Ute Indians 

— Camping out with Maxwell and Carson — A Story of the Old 
Santa Fe Trail 373 

CHAPTER XIX 

The Bents' Several Forts — Famous Trading-posts — Rendezvous of 
the Rocky Mountain Trappers — Castle William and Incidents 
connected with the Noted Place — Bartering with the Indians — 
Annual Feast of Arapahoes and Cheyennes — Old Wolf's F'irst 
Visit to Bent's Fort — The Surprise of the Savages — Stories 
told by Celebrated Frontiersmen around the Camp-fire . . 389 

CHAPTER XX 

Pawnee Rock — A Debatable Region of the Indian Tribes — The 
most Dangerous Point on the Central Plains in the Days of the 
Early Santa Fe - Trade — Received its Name in a Baptism of 
Blood — Battle-ground of the Pawnees and Cheyennes — Old 
Graves on the Summit of the Rock — Kit Carson's First Fight 
at the Rock with the Pawnees — Kills his Mule by Mistake — 
Colonel St. Vrain's Brilliant Charge — Defeat of the Savages — 
The Trappers' Terrible Battle with the Pawnees — The Mas- 
sacre at Cow Creek 403 

CHAPTER XXI 

Wagon Mound — John L. Hatcher's Thrilling Adventure with Old 
Wolf, the War-chief of the Comanches — Incidents on the Trail 

— A Boy Bugler's Happy Escape from the Savages at Fort Union 



CONTENTS 



— A Drunken Stage-driver — How an Officer of the Quartermas- 
ter's Department at Washington succeeded in starting the Mili- 
tary Freight Caravans a Month Earlier than the Usual Time — 
How John Chisholm fooled the Stage-robbers — The Story of 
Half a Plug of Tobacco 422 

CHAPTER XXII 

Solitary Graves along the Line of the Old Santa F6 Trail — The 
Walnut Crossing — Fort Zarah — The Graves on Hon. D. Hei- 
zer's Ranch on the Walnut — Troops stationed at the Crossing 
of the Walnut — A Terrible Five Miles — The Cavalry Recruit's 
Last Ride 432 

CHAPTER XXIII 

General Hancock's Expedition against the. Plains Indians — Terrible 
Snow-storm at Fort Earned — Meeting with the Chiefs of the 
Dog-Soldiers — Bull Bear's Diplomacy — Meeting of the United 
States Troops and the Savages in Line of Battle — Custer's Night 
Experience — The Surgeon and Dog Stew — Destruction of the 
Village by Fire — General Sully's Fight with the Kiowas, Co- 
manches, and Arapahoes — Finding the Skeletons of the Unfor- 
tunate Men — The Savages' Report of the Affair .... 456 

CHAPTER XXIV 

Scenery on the Line of the Old Santa F6 Trail — The Great Plains 

— The Arkansas Valley — Over the Rocky Mountains into New 
Mexico — The Raton Range — The Spanish Peaks — Simpson's 
Rest — Fisher's Peak — Raton Peak — Snowy Range — Pike's 
Peak- — Raton Creek — The Invasion of the Railroad — The Old 
Santa Fe Trail a Thing of the Past 480 

INDEX 491 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Colonel Henry Inman ....... Frontispiece 

FULL-PAGE PLATES BY FREDERICK REMINGTON. 

FACING PAGE 

Coronado's March . 5 

A Pack Train to Santa Fe, 1820 ...... 57 

Troops going to Mexico, 1847 109 

A Buffalo with the Pack 209 

Hunting on a Beaver Stream, 1840 ...... 263 

Government Scouts — Moonlight 367 

A Citadel of the Plains 413 

A Trapper and his Pony ........ 485 

Map of the Old Santa Fe Trail 29 

INITIALS AND TAIL PIECES BY THOMSON WILLING. 



THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 



INTRODUCTION 



THE FIRST EUROPEANS WHO TRAVERSED THE GREAT HIGHWAY 

ALVAR NUNEZ CABEgA DE VACA HERNANDO DE SOTO, 

AND FRANCISCO VASQUEZ DE CORONADO SPANISH EXPE- 
DITION FROM SANTA FE EASTWARDLY ESCAPE OF THE 

SOLE SURVIVORS 



Ifie Old Mb oF r~~~]OR more than three centu- 
ries, a period extending 
from 1541 to 1851, his- 
torians believed, and so 
announced to the liter- 
ary world, that Francisco 
Vasquez de, Coronado, 
the celebrated Spanish 
explorer, in his search 
for the Seven Cities of 
Cibola and the Kingdom 
\ of Quivira, was the first 
European to travel over 
the intra-continent region 
of North America. In the last 
year above referred to, however, Buck- 
ingham Smith, of Florida, an eminent Spanish scholar, 
and secretary of the American Legation at Madrid, dis- 

B 1 




Z THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

covered among the archives of State the Narrative of 
Alvar Nunez Cabega de Vaca, where for nearly three hun- 
dred years it had lain, musty and begrimed with the dust 
of ages, an unread and forgotten story of suffering that 
has no parallel in fiction. The distinguished antiquarian 
unearthed the valuable manuscript from its grave of 
oblivion, translated it into English, and gave it to the 
world of letters ; conferring honour upon whom honour 
was due, and tearing the laurels from such grand voya- 
geurs and discoverers as De Soto, La Salle, and Coro- 
nado, upon whose heads history had erroneously placed 
them, through no fault, or arrogance, however, of their 
own. 

Cabeca, beyond any question, travelled the Old Santa Fe 
Trail for many miles, crossed it where it intersects the 
Arkansas River, a little east of Fort William or Bent's 
Fort, and went thence on into New Mexico, following the 
famous highway as far, at least, as Las Vegas. Cabeca's 
march antedated that of Coronado by five years. To this 
intrepid Spanish voyageur we are indebted for the^first 
description of the American bison, or buffalo as the ani- 
mal is erroneously called. While not so quaint in its 
language as that of Coronado's historian, a lustrum later, 
the statement cannot be perverted into airy other refer- 
ence than to the great shaggy monsters of the plains : — 

" Cattle come as far as this. I have seen them three 
times and eaten of their meat. I think they are about 
the size of those of Spain. They have small horns like 
the cows of Morocco, and the hair very long and flocky, 
like that of the merino ; some are light brown, others 
black. To my judgment the flesh is finer and fatter than 
that of this country. The Indians make blankets of the 
hides of those not full grown. They range over a district 
of more than four hundred leagues, and in the whole ex- 
tent of plain over which they run the people that inhabit 



INTRODUCTION 3 

near there descend and live on them and scatter a vast 
many skins throughout the country." 

It will he rememhered hy the student of the early his- 
tory of our country, that when Alvar Nunez Cabec,a de 
Vaca, a follower of the unfortunate Panphilo de Narvaez, 
and who had been long thought dead, landed in Spain, he 
gave such glowing accounts of Florida 1 and the neigh- 
bouring regions that the whole kingdom was in a ferment, 
and many a heart panted to emigrate to a land where the 
fruits were perennial, and where it was thought flowed 
the fabled fountain of youth. 

Three expeditions to that country had already been 
tried: one undertaken in 1512, by Juan Ponce de Leon, 
formerly a companion of Columbus; another in 1520, by 
Vasquez de Allyon ; and another by Panphilo de Narvaez. 
All of these had signally failed, the bones of most of the 
leaders and their followers having been left to bleach upon 
the soil they had come to conquer. 

The unfortunate issue of the former expeditions did not 
operate as a check upon the aspiring mind of De Soto, but 
made him the more anxious to spring as an actor into the 
arena which had been the scene of the discomfiture and 
death of the hardy chivalry of the kingdom. He sought 
an audience of the emperor, and the latter, after hearing 
De Soto's proposition that, " he could conquer the country 
known as Florida at his own expense," conferred upon 
him the title of " Governor of Cuba and Florida." 

On the 6th of April, 1538, De Soto sailed from Spain 
with an armament of ten vessels and a splendidly equipped 
army of nine hundred chosen men, amidst the roar of can- 
nons and the inspiring strains of martial music. 

It is not within the province of this work to follow 
De Soto through all his terrible trials on the North Ameri- 

1 The whole country watered by the Mississippi and Missouri was 
called Florida at that time. 



4 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

can continent; the wonderful story may be found in every 
well-organized library. It is recorded, however, that 
some time during the year 1542, his decimated army, then 
under the command of Luis de Moscoso, De Soto having 
died the previous May, was camped on the Arkansas River, 
far upward towards what is now Kansas. It was this com- 
mand, too, of the unfortunate but cruel De Soto, that saw 
the Rocky Mountains from the east. The chronicler of 
the disastrous journey towards the mountains says: "The 
entire route became a trail of fire and blood," as they had 
ma-ny a desperate struggle with the savages of the plains, 
who " were of gigantic structure, and fought with heavy 
strong clubs, with the desperation of demons. Such was 
their tremendous strength, that one of these warriors was 
a match for a Spanish soldier, though mounted on a horse, 
armed with a sword and cased in armour ! " 

Moscoso was searching for Coronado, and he was one of 
the most humane of all the officers of De Soto's command, 
for he evidently bent every energy to extricate his men 
from the dreadful environments of their situation; despair- 
ing of reaching the Gulf by the Mississippi, he struck 
westward, hoping, as Cabega de Vaca had done, to arrive 
in Mexico overland. 

A period of six months was consumed in Moscoso's 
march towards the Rocky Mountains, but he failed to find 
Coronado, who at that time was camped near where 
Wichita, Kansas, is located ; according to his historian, 
"at the junction of the St. Peter and St. Paul" (the 
Big and Little Arkansas ?). That point was the place of 
separation between Coronado and a number of his follow- 
ers; many returning to Mexico, while the undaunted com- 
mander, with as many as he could induce to accompany him, 
continued easterly, still in search of the mythical Quivira. 

How far westward Moscoso travelled cannot be deter- 
mined accurately, but that his route extended up the 



is now B ■ at of h 

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CORONADO'S MARCH 



INTRODUCTION 5 

valley of the Arkansas for more than three hundred miles, 
into what is now Kansas, is proved by the statement of his 
historian, who says: " They saw great chains of mountains 
and forests to the west, which they understood were 
uninhabited." 

Another strong confirmatory fact is, that, in 1884, a 
group of mounds was discovered in McPherson County, 
Kansas, which were thoroughly explored by the professors 
of Bethany College, Lindsborg, who found, among other 
interesting relics, a piece of chain-mail armour, of hard 
steel ; undoubtedly part of the equipment of a Spanish 
soldier either of the command of Cabeqa de Vaca, De Soto, 
or of Coronado. The probability is, that it was worn by 
one of De Soto's unfortunate men, as neither Panphilo de 
Narvaez, De Vaca, or Coronado experienced any difficulty 
with the savages of the great plains, because those leaders 
were humane and treated the Indians kindly, in contradis- 
tinction to De Soto, who was the most inhuman of all the 
early Spanish explorers. He was of the same school as 
Pizarro and Cortez ; possessing their daring valour, their 
contempt of danger, and their tenacity of purpose, as well 
as their cruelty and avarice. De Soto made treaties with 
the Indians which he constantly violated, and murdered 
the misguided creatures without mercy. During the re- 
treat of Moscoso's weakened command down the Arkan- 
sas River, the Hot Springs of Arkansas were discovered. 
His historian writes : " And when they saw the foam- 
ing fountain, they thought it was the long-searched-for 
'Fountain of Youth,' reported by fame to exist some- 
where in the country, but ten of the soldiers dying from 
excessive drinking, they were soon convinced of their 
error." 

After these intrepid explorers the restless Coronado ap- 
pears on the Old Trail. In the third volume of Hakluyt's 
Voyages, published in London, 1600, Coronado's historian 



8 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

thus describes the great plains of Kansas and Colorado, 
the bison, and a tornado : — 

" From Cicuye they went to Quivira, which after their 
account is almost three hundred leagues distant, through 
mighty plains, and sandy heaths so smooth and wearisome, 
and bare of wood that they made heaps of ox-dung, for 
want of stones and trees, that they might not lose them- 
selves at their return : for three horses were lost on that 
plain, and one Spaniard which went from his company on 
hunting. . . . All that way of plains are as full of crooked- 
back oxen as the mountain Serrena in Spain is of sheep, 
but there is no such people as keep those cattle. . . . They 
were a great succour for the hunger and the want of bread, 
which our party stood in need of. . . . 

"One day it rained in that plain a great shower of hail, 
as big as oranges, which caused many tears, weakness and 
bowes. 

" These oxen are of the bigness and colour of our bulls, 
but their bones are not so great. They have a great bunch 
upon their fore-shoulder, and more hair on their fore part 
than on their hinder part, and it is like wool. They have 
as it were an horse-mane upon their backbone, and much 
hair and very long from their knees downward. They 
have great tufts of hair hanging clown on their foreheads, 
and it seemeth they have beards because of the great store 
of hair hanging down at their chins and throats. The 
males have very long tails, and a great knob or flock at 
the end, so that in some respects they resemble the lion, 
and in some other the camel. They push with their horns, 
they run, they overtake and kill an horse when they are 
in their rage and anger. Finally it is a foul and fierce 
beast of countenance and form of body. The horses fled 
from them, either because of their deformed shape, or else 
because they had never before seen them." 

"The number," continues the historian, "was incredi- 



INTRODUCTION 7 

ble." When the soldiers, in their excitement for the 
chase, began to kill them, they rushed together in such 
masses that hundreds were literally crushed to death. At 
one place there was a great ravine ; they jumped into it in 
their efforts to escape from the hunters, and so terrible was 
the slaughter as they tumbled over the precipice that the 
depression was completely filled up, their carcasses form- 
ing a bridge, over which the remainder passed with ease. 
The next recorded expedition across the plains via 
the Old Trail was also by the Spaniards from Santa Fe", 
eastwardly, in the year 1716, "for the purpose of estab- 
lishing a Military Post in the Upper Mississippi Valley as 
a barrier to the further encroachments of the French in 
that direction." An account of this expedition is found 
in Me moires Historiques sur La Louisiane, published in 
Paris in 1858, but never translated in its entirety. The 
author, Lieutenant Dumont of the French army, was one 
of a party ascending the Arkansas River in search of a 
supposed mass of emeralds. The narrative relates: "There 
was more than half a league to traverse to gain the other 
bank of the river, and our people were no sooner arrived 
than they found there a party of Missouris, sent to M. de 
la Harpe by M. de Bienville, then commandant general at 
Louisiana, to deliver orders to the former. Consequently 
they gave the signal order, and our other two canoes 
having crossed the river, the savages gave to our com- 
mandant the letters of M. de Bienville, in which he in- 
formed him that the Spaniards had sent out a detachment 
from New Mexico to go to the Missouris and to establish. 
a post in that country. . . . The success of this expe- 
dition was very calamitous to the Spaniards. Their cara- 
van was composed of fifteen hundred people, men, women 
and soldiers, having with them a Jacobin for a chaplain, 
and bringing also a great number of horses and cattle, 
according to the custom of that nation to forget nothing 



8 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

that might be necessary for a settlement. Their design 
was to destroy the Missouris, and to seize upon their 
country, and with this intention 'they had resolved to go 
first to the Osages, a neighbouring nation, enemies of the 
Missouris, to form an alliance with them, and to engage 
them in their behalf for the execution of their plan. Per- 
haps the map which guided them was not correct, or they 
had not exactly followed it, for it chanced that instead of 
going to the Osages whom they sought, they fell, without 
knowing it, into a village of the Missouris, where the 
Spanish commander, presenting himself to the great chief 
and offering him the calumet, made him understand 
through an interpreter, believing himself to be speaking to 
the Osage chief, that they were enemies of the Missouris, 
that they had come to destroy them, to make their women 
and children slaves and to take possession of their country. 
He beo-o-ed the chief to be willing to form an alliance with 
them, against a nation whom the Osages regarded as their 
enemy, and to second them in this enterprise, promising 
to recompense them liberally for the service rendered, and 
always to be their friend in the future. Upon this discourse 
the Missouri chief understood perfectly well the mistake. 
He dissimulated and thanked the Spaniard for the confidence 
he had in his nation ; he consented to form an alliance with 
them against the Missouris, and to join them with all his 
forces to destroy them ; but he represented that his people 
were not armed, and that they dared not expose them- 
selves without arms in such an enterprise. Deceived by 
so favourable a reception, the Spaniards fell into the trap 
laid for them. They received with due ceremony, in the 
little camp they had formed on their arrival, the calumet 
which the great chief of the Missouris presented to the 
Spanish commander. The alliance for war was sworn to 
by both parties ; they agreed upon a day for the execution 
of the plan which they meditated, and the Spaniards fur- 



INTRODUCTION 9 

nished the savages with all the munitions which they 
thought were needed. After the ceremony both parties 
gave themselves up equally to joy and good cheer. At 
the end of three days two thousand savages were armed 
and in the midst of dances and amusements ; each party 
thought of nothing but the execution of its design. It 
was the evening before their departure upon their con- 
certed expedition, and the Spaniards had retired to their 
camps as usual, when the great chief of the Missouris, 
having assembled his warriors, declared to them his in- 
tentions, and exhorted them to deal treacherously with 
these strangers who were come to their home only with 
the design of destroying them. At daybreak the savages 
divided into several bands, fell on the Spaniards, who 
expected nothing of the kind, and in less than a quarter 
of an hour all the caravan were murdered. No one 
escaped from the massacre except the chaplain, whom 
the barbarians ,saved because of his dress ; at the same 
time they took possession of all the merchandise and other 
effects which they found in their camp. The Spaniards 
had brought with them, as I have said, a certain number of 
horses, and as the savages were ignorant of the use of these 
animals, they took pleasure in making the Jacobin whom 
they had saved, and who had become their slave, mount 
them. The priest gave them this amusement almost every 
day for the five or six months that he remained with them 
in their village, without any of them daring to imitate 
him. Tired at last of his slavery, and regarding the lack 
of daring in these barbarians as a means of Providence 
to regain his liberty, he made secretly all the provisions 
possible for him to make, and which he believed necessary 
to his plan. At last, having chosen the best horse and 
having mounted him, after performing several of his ex- 
ploits before the savages, and while they were all occupied 
with his manoeuvres, he spurred up and disajjpeared from 



10 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

their sight, taking the road to Mexico, where doubtless he 
arrived." 

Charlevoix, 1 who travelled from Quebec to New Orleans 
in the year 1721, says in one of his letters to the Duchess 
of Lesdiguieres, dated at Kaskaskia, July 21, 1721 : "About 
two years ago some Spaniards, coming, as they say, from 
New Mexico, and intending to get into the country of 
the Illinois and drive the French from thence, whom they 
saw with extreme jealousy approach so near the Missouri, 
came down the river and attacked two villages of the 
Octoyas, 2 who are the allies of the Ayouez, 3 and from 
whom it is said also that they are derived. As the 
savages had no firearms and were surprised, the Span- 
iards made an easy conquest and killed a great many of 
them. A third village, which was not far off from the 
other two, being informed of what had passed, and not 
doubting but these conquerors would attack them, laid an 
ambush into which the Spaniards heedlessly fell. Others 
say that the savages, having heard that the enemy were 
almost all drunk and fast asleep, fell upon them in the 
night. However it was, it is certain the greater part of 
them were killed. There were in the party two almoners ; 
one of them was killed directly and the other got away to 
the Missouris, who took him prisoner, but he escaped 
them very dexterously. He had a very fine horse and the 
Missouris took pleasure in seeing him ride it, which he 
did very skilfully. lie took advantage of their curiosity 
to cret out of their hands. 

" One day as he was prancing and exercising his horse 
before them, he got a little distance from them insensibly ; 
then suddenly clapping spurs to his horse he was soon out 
of sight." 

1 The celebrated Jesuit, author of The History of New France, Journals 
of a Voyage to North America, Letters to the Duchess, etc. 

2 Otoes. 3 Iowas. 



INTRODUCTION 11 

The Missouri Indians once occupied all the territory 
near the junction of the Kaw and Missouri rivers, but they 
were constantly decimated by the continual depredations 
of their warlike and feudal enemies, the Pawnees and 
Sioux, and at last fell a prey to that dreadful scourge, the 
small-pox, which swept them off by thousands. The 
remnant of the once powerful tribe then found shelter and 
a home with the Otoes, finally becoming merged in that 
tribe. 




5dn1a 'If 'from Eirtttdrcy in /J/0 



CHAPTER I 

QUAINT DESCRIPTIONS OF OLD SANTA FE THE FAMOUS ADOHE 

PALACE SANTA FE THE OLDEST TOWN IN THE UNITED 

STATES FIRST SETTLEMENT ONATE's CONQUEST REVOLT 

OF THE PUEBLO INDIANS UNDER PUEBLO RULE CRUEL- 
TIES OF THE VICTORS THE SANTA FE OF TO-DAY ARRI- 
VAL OF A CARAVAN THE RAILROAD REACHES THE TOWN 

AMUSEMENTS A FANDANGO 



Mexican pccfcf//n$_ - " ""_ c H E Santa Fe of the purely 

Mexican occupation, long 
before the days of New 
Mexico's acquisition by 
the United States, and 
the Santa Fe' of to-day 
V-'.'^'^TS?' are so widely in contrast 
^ \ tnat ** ' s difficult to find 
t'-V.i'jSwii*;' language in which to con- 
vey to the reader the 
' )j K_ |ti_, ;-_. story of the phenomenal 
change. To those who 
are acquainted with the 
- charming place as it is 
now, with its refined and 
cultured society, I cannot do better, perhaps, in attempt- 
ing to show what it was under the old regime, than to 
quote what some traveller in the early 30's wrote for a 
New York leading newspaper, in regard to it. As far as 
my own observation of the place is concerned, when I first 
visited it a great many years ago, the writer of the com- 

12 




UNDER THE SPANIARDS 13 

munication whose views I now present was not incorrect 
in his judgment. He said: — 

" To dignify such a collection of mud hovels with the 
name of 'City,' would be a keen irony; not greater, how- 
ever, than is the name with which its Padres have baptized 
it. To call a place with its moral character, a very Sodom 
in iniquity, 'Holy Faith,' is scarcely a venial sin; it 
deserves Purgatory at least. Its health is the best in the 
country, which is the first, second and third recommenda- 
tion of New Mexico by its greatest admirers. It is a 
small town of about two thousand inhabitants, crowded up 
against the mountains, at the end. of a little valley through 
which runs a mountain stream of the same name tributary 
to the Rio Grande. It has a public square in the centre, 
a Palace and an Alameda; as all Spanish Roman Catholic 
towns have. It is true its Plaza, or Public Square, is un- 
fenced and uncared for, without trees or grass. The 
Palace is nothing more than the biggest mud-house in the 
town, and the churches, too, are unsightly piles of the 
same material, and the Alameda ] is on top of a sand hill. 
Yet they have in Santa Fe all the parts and parcels of a 
regal city and a Bishopric. The Bishop has a palace also; 
the only two-storied shingle-roofed house in the place. 
There is one public house set apart for eating, drinking 
and gambling ; for be it known that gambling is here 
authorized by law. Hence it is as respectable to keep a 
gambling house, as it is to sell rum in New Jersey; it is a 
lawful business, and being lawful, and consequently re- 
spectable and a man's right, why should not men gamble ? 
And gamble they do. The Generals and the Colonels 
and the Majors and the Captains gamble. The judges and 
the lawyers and the doctors and the priests gamble ; and 
there are gentlemen gamblers by profession ! You will see 
squads of poor i^eons daily, men, women and boys, sitting 
1 Boulevard, Promenade. 



14 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

on the ground around a deck of cards in the Public Square, 
gambling for the smallest stakes. 

" The stores of the town generally front on the Public 
Square. Of these there are a dozen, more or less, of re- 
spectable size, and most of them are kept by others than 
Mexicans. The business of the place is considerable, 
many of the merchants here being wholesale dealers for 
the vast territory tributary. It is supposed that about 
•$750,000 worth of goods will be brought to this place this 
year, and there may be $250,000 worth imported directly 
from the United States. 

" In the money market there is nothing less than a five- 
cent piece. You cannot purchase anything for less than 
five cents. In trade they reckon ten cents the eighth of a 
dollar. If you purchase nominally a dollar's worth of an 
article, you can pay for it in eight ten-cent pieces ; and if 
you give a dollar, you receive no change. In changing a 
dollar for j r ou, you would get but eight ten-cent pieces 
for it. 

"Yet, although dirty and unkempt, and swarming with 
hungry dogs, it has the charm of foreign flavour, and like 
»San Antonio retains some portion of the grace which long 
lingered about it, if indeed it ever forsakes the spot where 
Spain held rule for centuries, and the soft syllables of the 
Spanish language are yet heard." 

Such was a description of the "drowsy old town" of 
Santa Fe, sixty-five years ago. Fifteen years later Major 
W. H. Emory, of the United States army, writes of it 
as follows : 1 " The population of Santa Fe is from two 
to four thousand, and the inhabitants are, it is said, the 
poorest people of any town in the Province. The houses 

1 Notes of a Military Reconnoissance from Fort Leavenworth, in Mis- 
souri, to San Diego, in California, including parts of the Arkansas, Del 
Norte, and Gila Rivers. Brevet Major W. H. Emory, Corps of Topo- 
graphical Engineers, United States Army, 1846. 



UNDER THE SPANIARDS 15 

are mud bricks, in the Spanish style, generally of one 
story, and built on a square. The interior of the square 
is an open court, and the principal rooms open into it. 
They are forbidding in appearance from the outside, but 
nothing can exceed the comfort and convenience of the 
interior. The thick walls make them cool in summer 
and warm in winter. 

" The better class of people are provided with excellent 
beds, but the poorer class sleep on untanned skins. The 



;t ■■-■- 




-* 

■ s V 



A Mexican Ranch 



women here, as in many other parts of the world, appear 
to be much before the men in refinements, intelligence. 
and knowledge of the useful arts. The higher class dress 
like the American women, except, instead of a bonnet, 
they wear a scarf over their head, called a reboso. This 
they wear asleep or awake, in the house or abroad. The 
dress of the lower classes of women is a simple petticoat, 
with arms and shoulders bare, except what may chance to 
be covered by the reboso. 

" The men who have means to do so dress after our 
fashion ; but by far the greater number, when they dress 



16 THE OLD SANTA FB TRAIL 

at all, wear leather breeches, tight around the hips and 
open from the knee down ; shirt and blanket take the 
place of our coat and vest. 

" The city is dependent on the distant hills for wood, 
and at all hours of the day may be seen jackasses passing 
laden with wood, which is sold at two bits, twenty-five 
cents, the load. These are the most diminutive animals, 
and usually mounted from behind, after the fashion of 
leap-frog. The jackass is the only animal that can be 
subsisted in this barren neighbourhood without great ex- 
pense ; our horses are all sent to a distance of twelve, 
fifteen, and thirty miles for grass." 

I have interpolated these two somewhat similar descrip- 
tions of Santa Fe written in that long ago when New 
Mexico was almost as little known as the topography of 
the planet Mars, so that the intelligent visitor of to-day 
may appreciate the wonderful changes which American 
thrift, and that powerful civilizer, the locomotive, have 
wrought in a very few years, yet it still, as one of the 
foregoing writers has well said, " has the charm of foreign 
flavour, and the soft syllables of the Spanish language are 
still heard." 

The most positive exception must be taken to the state- 
ment of the first-quoted writer in relation to the Palace, 
of which he says " It is nothing more than the biggest mud- 
house in the town." Now this " Palacio del Gobernador," 
as the old building was called by the Spanish, was erected 
at a very early day. It was the long-established seat of 
power when Penalosa confined the chief inquisitor within 
its walls in 1663, and when the Pueblo authorities took 
possession of it as the citadel of their central authority, 
in 1681. 

The old building cannot well be overlooked by the most 
careless visitor to the quaint town ; it is a long, low struct- 
ure, taking up the greater part of one side of the Plaza, 



UNDER THE SPANIARDS 17 

round which runs a colonnade supported by pillars of rough 
pine. In this once leaky old Palace were kept, or rather 
neglected, the archives of the Territory until the American 
residents, appreciating the importance of preserving pre- 
cious documents containing- so much of interest to the 
student of history and the antiquarian, enlisted themselves 
enthusiastically in the good cause, and have rescued from 
oblivion the annals of a relatively remote civilization, which, 
but for their forethought, would have perished from the 
face of the earth as completely as have the written records 
of that wonderful region in Central America, whose gigan- 
tic ruins alone remain to tell us of what was a highly cult- 
ured order of architecture in past ages, and of a people 
whose intelligence was comparable to the style of the 
dwellings in which they lived. 

The old adobe Palace is in itself a volume whose pages 
are filled with pathos and stirring events. It has been the 
scene and witness of incidents the recital of which would 
to us to-day seem incredible. An old friend, once gov- 
ernor of New Mexico and now dead, thus graphically 
, spoke of the venerable building : * " In it lived and ruled 
the Spanish captain general, so remote and inaccessible 
from the viceroyalty at Mexico that he was in effect a 
king, nominally accountable to the viceroy, but practically 
beyond his reach and control and wholly irresponsible to 
the people. Equally independent for the same reason 
were the Mexican governors. Here met all the provincial, 
territorial, departmental, and other legislative bodies that 
have ever assembled at the capital of New Mexico. Here 
have been planned all the Indian wars and measures for 
defence against foreign invasion, including, as the most 
noteworthy, the Navajo war of 1823, the Texan inva- 
sion of 1842, the American of 1846, and the Confederate 

1 Hon. W. F. Amy, in his Centennial Celebration Address at Santa F<5, 
July 4, 1870. 
c 



18 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

of 1862. Within its walls was imprisoned, in 1809, the 
American explorer Zebulon M. Pike, and innumerable 
state prisoners before and since ; and many a sentence of 
death has been pronounced therein and the accused forth- 
with led away and shot at the dictum of the man at the 
Palace. It has been from time immemorial the govern- 
ment house with all its branches annexed. It was such 
on the Fourth of July, 1776, when the American Congress 
at Independence Hall in Philadelphia proclaimed liberty 
throughout all the land, not then, but now embracing it. 
Indeed, this old edifice has a history. And as the history 
of Santa Fe is the history of New Mexico, so is the history 
of the Palace the history of Santa Fe." 

The Palace was the only building having glazed win- 
dows. At one end was the government printing office, 
and at the other, the guard-house and prison. Fear- 
ful stories were connected with the prison. Edwards 1 
says that he found, on examining the walls of the small 
rooms, locks of human hair stuffed into holes, with rude 
crosses drawn over them. 

Fronting the Palace, on the south side of the Plaza, 
stood the remains of the Capilla de los Soldados, or Mili- 
tary Chapel. The real name of the church was " Our Lady 
of Light." It was .said to be the richest church in the 
Province, but had not been in use for a number of years, 
and the roof had fallen in, allowing the elements to com- 
plete the work of destruction. On»each side of the altar 
was the remains of fine carving, and a weather-beaten pict- 
ure above gave evidence of having been a beautiful paint- 
ing. Over the door was a large oblong slab of freestone, 
elaborately carved, representing "Our Lady of Light" res- 
cuing a human being from the jaws of Satan. A large 
tablet, beautifully executed in relief, stood behind the altar, 
representing various saints, with an inscription stating that 
1 Edwards, Conquest of New Mexico. 



UNDER THE SPANIARDS 19 

it was erected by Governor Francisco Antonio del Valle 
and his wife in 1761. 

Church services were held in the Parroquia, or Parish 
church, now the Cathedral, which had two towers or 
steeples, in which hung four bells. The music was fur- 
nished by a violin and a triangle. The wall back of the 
altar was covered with innumerable mirrors, paintings, and 
bright-coloured tapestry. 

The exact date of the first settlement of Santa F^ is un- 
certain. One authority says: "It was a primeval strong- 
hold before the Spanish Conquest, and a town of some 
importance to the white race when Pennsylvania was a 
wilderness and the first Dutch governor of New York was 
slowly drilling the Knickerbocker ancestry in their diffi- 
cult evolutions around the town-pump." 

It is claimed, on what is deemed very authentic data by 
some, that Santa Fe" is really the oldest settled town in the 
United States. St. Augustine, Florida, was established 
in 1565 and was unquestionably conceded the honour of 
antiquity until the acquisition of New Mexico by the 
Guadalupe-Hidalgo treaty. Then, of course, Santa Fe" 
steps into the arena and carries off the laurels. This claim 
of precedence for Santa Fe is based upon the statement 
(whether historically correct or not is a question) that 
when the Spaniards first entered the region from the 
southern portion of Mexico, about 1542, they found a 
very large Pueblo town on the present site of Santa 
Fe, and that its prior existence extended far back into 
the vanished centuries. This is contradicted by other his- 
torians, who contend that the claim of Santa Fe to be. the 
oldest town in the United States rests entirely on imagi- 
nary annals of an Indian Pueblo before the Spanish Con- 
quest, and that there are but slight indications that the 
town was built on the site of one. 1 

1 I think this is Bancroft's idea. 



20 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

The reader may further satisfy himself on these mooted 
points by consulting the mass of historical literature on 
New Mexico, and the records of its primitive times are 
not surpassed in interest by those of any other part of the 
continent. It was there the Europeans first made great 
conquests, and some years prior to the landing of the Pil- 
grims, a history of New Mexico, being the journal of Gero- 
nimo de Zarate Salmaron, was published by the Church in 
the City of Mexico, early in 1U00. Salmaron was a Fran- 
ciscan monk; a most zealous and indefatigable worker. 
During his eight years' residence at Jemez, near Santa Fe, 
he claims to have baptized over eight thousand Indians, 
converts to the Catholic faith. His journal gives a de- 
scription of the country, its mines, etc., and was made 
public in order that other monks reading it might emulate 
his pious example. 

Between 1605 and 1616 was founded the Villa of Santa 
F^, or San Francisco de la Santa F^. " Villa," or village, 
was an honorary title, always authorized and proclaimed 
by the king. Bancroft says that it was first officially 
mentioned On the 3d of January, 1617. 

The first immigration to New Mexico was under Don 
Juan de Onate about 1597, and in a year afterward, accord- 
ing to some authorities, Santa Fe was settled. The place, 
as claimed by some historians, was then named El Teguayo, 
a Spanish adaptation of the word "Tegua," the name of 
the Pueblo nation, which was quite numerous, and occupied 
Santa Fe and the contiguous country. It very soon, from 
its central position and charming climate, became the lead- 
ing Spanish town, and the capital of the Province. The 
Spaniards, who came at first into the country as friends, 
and were apparently eager to obtain the good-will of the 
intelligent natives, shortly began to claim superiority, and 
to insist on the performance of services which were origi- 
nally mere evidences of hospitality and kindness. Little 



UNDER THE SPANIARDS 21 

by little they assumed greater power and control over the 
Indians, until in the course of years they had subjected a 
large portion of them to servitude little differing from 
actual slavery. 

The impolitic zeal of the monks gradually invoked the 
spirit of hatred and resulted in a rebellion that drove the 
Spaniards, in 1680, from the country'. The large number 
of priests who were left in the midst of the natives met 
with horrible fates: "Not one escaped martyrdom. At 
Znni, three Franciscans had been stationed, and when the 
news of the Spanish retreat reached the town, the people 
dragged them from their cells, stripped and stoned them, 
and afterwards compelled the servant of one to finish the 
work by shooting them. Having thus whetted their appe- 
tite for cruelty and vengeance, the Indians started to carry 
the news of their independence to Moqui, and signalized 
their arrival by the barbarous murder of the two mission- 
aries who were living there. Their bodies were left 
unburied, as a prey for the wild beasts. At Jemez they 
indulged in every refinement of cruelty. The old priest, 
Jesus Morador, was seized in his bed at night, stripped 
naked and mounted on a hog, and thus paraded through 
the streets, while the crowd shouted and yelled around. 
Not satisfied with this, they then forced him to carry them 
as a beast would, crawling on his hands and feet, until, 
from repeated beating and the cruel tortures of sharp spurs, 
he fell dead in their midst. A similar chapter of horrors 
was enacted at Acoma, where three priests were stripped, 
tied together with hair rope, and so driven through the 
streets, and finally stoned to death. Not a Christian re- 
mained free within the limits of New Mexico, and those 
who had been dominant a few months before were now 
wretched and half-starved fugitives, huddled together in 
the rude huts of San Lorenzo. 

"As soon as the Spaniards had retreated from the coun- 



22 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

try, the Pueblo Indians gave themselves up for a time to 
rejoicing, and to the destruction of everything which could 
remind them of the Europeans, their religion, and their 
domination. The army which had besieged Santa Fe' 
quickly entered that city, took possession of the Palace as 
the seat of government, and commenced the work of 
demolition. The churches and the monastery of the 
Franciscans were burned with all their contents, amid 
the almost frantic acclamations of the natives. The gor- 
geous restments of the priests had been dragged out be- 
fore the conflagration, and now were worn in derision by 
Indians, who rode through the streets at full speed, shout- 
ing for joy. The official documents and books in the 
Palace were brought forth, and made fuel for a bonfire in 
the centre of the Plaza ; and here also the}^ danced the 
cachina, with all the accompanying religious ceremonies 
of the olden time. Everything imaginable was done to 
show their detestation of the Christian faith and their 
determination to utterly eradicate even its memory. Those 
who had been baptized were washed with amole in the 
Rio Chiquito, in order to be cleansed from the infection 
of Christianity. All baptismal names were discarded, 
marriages celebrated by Christian priests were annulled, 
the veiy mention of the names Jesus and Mary was made 
an offence, and estuffas were constructed to take the place 
of ruined churches." 1 

For twelve years, although many abortive attempts were 
made to recapture the country, the Pueblos were left in 
possession. On the 16th of October, 1693, the victorious 
Spaniards at last entered Santa Fe, bearing the same ban- 
ner which had been carried by Onate when he entered the 
city just a century before. The conqueror this time was 
Don Diego de Vargas Zapata Lujan, whom the viceroy of 

1 Historical Sketches of New Mexico, L. Bradford Prince, late Chief 
Justice of New Mexico, 1883. 



UNDER THE SPANIARDS 23 

New Spain had appointed governor in the spring of 
1692, with the avowed purpose of having New Mexico 
reconquered as speedily as possible. 

Thus it will be seen that the quaint old city has been 
the scene of many important historical events, the mere 
outline of which I have recorded here, as this book is not 
devoted to the historical view of the subject. 

In contradistinction to the quiet, sleepy old Santa Fe" of 
half a century ago, it now presents all the vigour, intelli- 
gence, and bustling progressiveness of the average Ameri- 
can city of to-day, yet still smacks of that ancient Spanish 
regime, which gives it a charm that only its blended Euro- 
pean and Indian civilization could make possible after its 
amalgamation with the United States. 

The tourist will no longer find a drowsy old town, and 
the Plaza is no longer unfenced and uncared for. A 
beautiful park of trees is surrounded by low palings, and 
inside the shady enclosure, under a group of large cotton- 
woods, is a cenotaph erected to the memory of the Terri- 
tory's gallant soldiers who fell in the shock of battle to 
save New Mexico to the Union in 1862, and conspicuous 
amono' the names carved on the enduring native rock is 
that of Kit Carson, — prince of frontiersmen, and one of 
Nature's noblemen. 

Around the Plaza one sees the American style of archi- 
tecture and hears the hum of American civilization ; but 
beyond, and outside this pretty park, the streets are narrow, 
crooked, and have an ancient appearance. There the old 
Santa Fe" confronts the stranger; odd, foreign-looking, and 
flavoured with all the peculiarities which marked the era 
of Mexican rule. And now, where once was heard the 
excited shouts of the idle crowd, of " Los Americanos ! " 
"Los Carros!'" "La entrada de la Caravana!" as the 
great freight wagons rolled into the streets of the old 
town from the Missouri, over the Santa Fe - Trail, the shrill 



24 THE OLD SANTA VE TRAIL 

whistle of the locomotive from its trail of steel awakens 
the echoes of the mighty hills. 

As may be imagined, great excitement always pre- 
vailed whenever a caravan of goods arrived in Santa Fe. 
Particularly was this the case among the feminine portion 
of the community. The quaint old town turned out its 
mixed population en masse the moment the shouts went 
up that the train was in sight. There is nothing there 
to-day comparable to the anxious looks of the masses as 
they watched the heavily freighted wagons rolling into the 
town, the teamsters dust-begrimed, and the mules making 
the place hideous with their discordant braying as they 
knew that their long journey was ended and rest awaited 
them. The importing merchants were obliged to turn 
over to the custom house officials five hundred dollars for 
every wagon-load, great or small ; and no matter what the 
intrinsic value of the goods might be, salt or silk, velvets 
or sugar, it was all the same. The nefarious duty had to 
be paid before a penny's worth could be transferred to 
their counters. Of course, with the end of Mexican rule 
and the acquisition of the Province by the United States, 
all opposition to the traffic of the Old Santa Fe Trail ended, 
traders were assured a profitable market and the people 
purchased at relatively low prices. 

What a wonderful change has taken place in the traffic 
with New Mexico in less than three-quarters of a century ! 
In 1825 it was all carried on with one single annual cara- 
van of prairie-schooners, and now there are four railroads 
running through the Rio Grande Valley, and one daily 
freight train of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe into the 
town unloads more freight than was taken there in a whole 
year when the "commerce of the prairies" was at its 
height ! 

Upon the arrival of a caravan in the days of the sleepy 
regime under Mexican control, the people did everything 



UNDER THE SPANIARDS 25 

in their power to make the time pass pleasantly for every 
one connected with it during their sojourn. Bailes, or 
fandangoes, as the dancing parties were called hy the 
natives, were given nightly, and many amusing anecdotes 
in regard to them are related hy the old-timers. 

The New Mexicans, both men and women, had a great 
fondness for jewelry, dress, and amusements ; of the latter, 
the fandango was the principal, which was held in the 
most fashionable place of resort, where every belle and 
beauty in the town presented herself, attired in the most 
costly manner, and displaying her jewelled ornaments to 
the best advantage. To this place of recreation and pleas- 
ure, generally a large, capacious saloon or interior court, 
all classes of persons were allowed to come, without charge 
and without invitation. The festivities usually commenced 
about nine o'clock in the evening, and the tolling of the 
church hells was the signal for the ladies to make their 
entrance, which they did almost simultaneously. 

New Mexican ladies were famous for their gaud)' dresses, 
but it must be confessed they did not exercise good taste. 
Their robes were made without bodies ; a skirt only, and a 
long, loose, flowing scarf or reboso dexterously thrown 
about the head and shoulders, so as to supersede both the 
use of dress-bodies and bonnets. 

There was very little order maintained at these fandan- 
goes, and still less attention paid to the rules of etiquette. 
A kind of swinging, gallopade waltz was the favourite 
dance, the cotillion not being much in vogue. Read 
Byron's graphic description of the waltz, and then stretch 
your imagination to its utmost tension, and you will per- 
haps have some faint conception of the Mexican fandango. 
Such familiarity of position as was indulged in would be 
repugnant to the refined rules of polite society in the east- 
ern cities; but with the New Mexicans, in those early times, 
nothing was considered to be a greater accomplishment 



26 



THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 



than that of being able to go handsomely through all the 
mazes of their peculiar dance. 

There was one republican feature about the New Mexi- 
can fandango ; it was that all classes, rich and poor alike, 
met and intermingled, as did the Romans at their Satur- 
nalia, upon terms of equality. Sumptuous repasts or col- 
lations were rarely ever prepared for those frolicsome 
gatherings, but there was always an abundance of confec- 
tionery, sweetmeats, and native wine. It cost very little for 
a man to attend one of the fandangoes in Santa Fe\ but not 
to get away decently and sober. In that it resembled the 
descent of vEneas to Pluto's realms; it was easy enough 
to get there, but when it came to return, "revocare gradum, 
superasque evadere ad auras, hie labor, hoc opus est." 




Old jpanuh Palace. 5anfafe'. 



CHAPTER II 

THE BEGINNING OF THE SANTA FE TEADE LA LANDE AND 

PURSLEY, THE FIRST AMERICANS TO CROSS THE PLAINS 

PURSLEY's PATRIOTISM CAPTAIN EZEKIEL WILLIAMS A 

HUNGRY BEAR — A MIDNIGHT ALARM 



Ruins of a^ ~ IN the beginning of the 

^f'Q;/^?*^ I! trade with New Mexico, 

' ■ '■ the route across the great 

plains was directly west 
from the Missouri River 
to the mountains, thence 
south to Santa Fe by the 
circuitous trail from Taos. 
When the tr;iffic assumed 
an importance demanding 
a more easy line of way, 
the road was changed, run- 
ning along the left bank 
of the Arkansas until that 
stream turned northwest, 
at which point it crossed 
the river, and continued southwest to the Raton Pass. 

The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad track sub- 
stantially follows the Trail through the mountains, which 
here afford the wildest and most picturesquely beautiful 
scenery on the continent. 

The Arkansas River at the fording of the Old Trail is 
not more than knee-deep at an ordinary stage of water, 

27 




28 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

and its bottom is well paved with rounded pebbles of the 
primitive rock. 

The overland trade between the United States and the 
northern provinces of Mexico seems to have had no very 
definite origin; having been rather the result of an acci- 
dent than of any organized plan of commercial establish- 
ment. 

According to the best authorities, a French creole, 
named La Lande, an agent of a merchant of Kaskaskia, 
Illinois, was the first American adventurer to enter into the 
uncertain channels of trade with the people of the ultra- 
montane region of the centre of the continent. He began 
his adventurous journey across the vast wilderness, with 
no companions but the savages of the debatable land, in 
1804; and following him the next year, James Pursley 
undertook the same pilgrimage. Neither of these pioneers 
in the " commerce of the prairies " returned to relate what 
incidents marked the passage of their marvellous expe- 
ditions. Pursley was so infatuated with the strange 
country he had travelled so far to reach, that he took up 
his abode in the quaint old town of Santa Fe, where his 
subsequent life is lost sight of. La Lande, of a different 
mould, forgot to render an account of his mission to the 
merchant who had sent him there, and became a prosper- 
ous and wealthy man by means of money to which he had 
no right. 

To Captain Zebulon Pike, who afterwards was made a 
general, is due the impetus which the trade with Santa Fe 
received shortly after his return to the United States. 
The student of American history will remember that the 
expedition commanded by this soldier was inaugurated in 
1806 ; his report of the route he had taken was the incen- 
tive for commercial speculation in the direction of trade 
with New Mexico, but it was so handicapped by restric- 
tions imposed by the Mexican government, that the adven- 



LA LANDE AND FUKSLEY 29 

turers into the precarious traffic were not only subject to 
a complete confiscation of their wares, but frequently im- 
prisoned for months as spies. Under such a condition 
of affairs, many of the earlier expeditions, prior to 1822, 
resulted in disaster, and only a limited number met with 
an indifferent success. 

■ It will not be inconsistent with my text if I herewith 
interpolate an incident connected with Pursley, the second 
American to cross the desert, for the purpose of trade 
with New Mexico, which I find in the Magazine of Ameri- 
can History : " When Zebulon M. Pike was in Mexico, in 
1807, he met, at Santa Fe, a carpenter, Pursley by name, 
from Bardstown, Kentucky, who was working at his trade. 
He had in a previous year, while out hunting on the Plains, 
met with a series of misfortunes, and found himself near 
the mountains. The hostile Sioux drove the party into 
the hiafh "■round in the rear of Pike's Peak. Near the 
headwaters of the Platte River, Pursley found some gold, 
which he carried in his shot-pouch for months. He was 
finally sent by his companions to Santa Fe, to see if they 
could trade with the Mexicans, but he chose to remain in 
Santa Fe" in preference to returning to his comrades. He 
told the Mexicans about the gold he had found, and they 
tried hard to persuade him to show them the place. They 
even offered to take along a strong force of cavalry. But 
Pursley refused, and his patriotic reason was that he 
thought the land belonged to the United States. He told 
Captain Pike that he feared they would not allow him to 
leave Santa Fe, as they still hoped to learn from him where 
the gold was to be found. These facts were published by 
Captain Pike soon after his return east; but no one took 
the hint, or the risk was too great, and thus more than 
a half a century passed before those same rich fields of 
gold were found and ojDened to the world. If Pursley 
had been somewhat less patriotic, and had guided the 



30 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Mexicans to the treasures, the whole history and condi- 
tion of the western part of our continent might have been 
entirely different from what it now is. That region would 
still have been a part of Mexico, or Spain might have been 
in possession of it, owning California ; and, with the gold 
that would have been poured into her coffers, would have 
been the leading nation of European affairs to-day. AVe 
can easily see how American and European history in the 
nineteenth century might have been changed, if that 
adventurer from Kentucky had not been a true lover of 
his native country." 

The adventures of Captain Ezekiel Williams along the 
Old Trail, in the early days of the century, tell a story of 
wonderful courage, endurance, and persistency. Williams 
was a man of great perseverance, patience, and determina- 
tion of character. He set out from St. Louis in the late 
spring of 1807, to trap on the Upper Missouri and the 
waters of the Yellowstone, with a party of twenty men 
who had chosen him as their leader. After various excit- 
ing incidents and thrilling adventures, all of the original 
party, except Williams and two others, were killed by the 
Indians somewhere in the vicinity of the Upper Arkan- 
sas. The three survivors, not knowing where they were, 
separated, and Captain Williams determined to take to the 
stream by canoe, and trap on his way toward the settle- 
ments, while his last two companions started for the Spanish 
country, — that is, for the region of Santa Fe. The journal 
of Williams, from which I shall quote freely, is to be found 
in The Lost Trappers, a work long out of print. 1 As the 
country Avas an unexplored region, he might be on a river 
that flowed into the Pacific, or he might be drifting down 
a stream -that was an affluent to the Gulf of Mexico. He 
was inclined to believe that he was on the sources of the 
Red River. He therefore resolved to launch his canoe, 
1 D. H. Coyner, 1847. 



LA LANDE AND PURSLEY 31 

and go wherever the stream might convey him, trapping 
on his descent, when beaver might be plenty. 

The first canoe he used he made of buffalo-skins. As 
this kind of water conveyance soon begins to leak and rot, 
he made another of cottonwood, as soon as he came to 
timber sufficiently large, in which he embarked for a port, 
he knew not where. 

Most of his journeyings Captain AVilliams performed dur- 
ing the hours of night, excepting when he felt it perfectly 
safe to travel in daylight. His usual plan was to glide along 
down the stream, until he came to a place where beaver 
signs were abundant. There he would push his little bark 
among the willows, where he remained concealed, except- 
ing when he was setting his ti'aps or visiting them in the 
morning. When he had taken all the beaver in one neigh- 
bourhood, he would untie his little conveyance, and glide 
onward and downward to try his luck in another place. 

Thus for hundreds of miles did this solitary trapper float 
down this unknown river, through an unknown country, 
here and there lashing his canoe to the willows and plant- 
ing his traps in the little tributaries around. The upper 
part of the Arkansas, for this proved to be the river he 
was on, 1 is very destitute of timber, and the prairie fre- 
quently begins at the bank of the river and expands on 
either side as far as the eye can reach. He saw vast herds 
of buffalo, and as it was the rutting season, the bulls 
were making a wonderful ado ; the prairie resounded with 
their low, deep grunting or bellowing, as they tore up the 
earth with their feet and horns, whisking their tails, and 
defying their rivals to battle. Large gangs of wild horses 
could be seen grazing on the plains and hillsides, and the 
neighing and squealing of stallions might be heard at all 
times of the night. 

1 He was travelling parallel to the Old Santa Fe Trail all the time, but 
did not know it until he was overtaken by a band of Kaw Indians. 



32 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Captain Williams never used his rifle to procure meat, 
except when it was absolutely necessary, or could be done 
with perfect safety. On occasions when he had no beaver, 
upon which he generally subsisted, he ventured to kill a 
deer, and after refreshing his empty stomach with a portion 
of the flesh, he placed the carcass in one end of the canoe. 
It was his invariable custom to sleep in his canoe at night, 
moored to the shore, and once when he had laid in a sup- 
ply of venison he was startled in his sleep by the tramping 
of something in the bushes on the bank. Tramp ! tramp ! 
tramp ! went the footsteps, as they approached the canoe. 
He thought at first it might be an Indian that had found 
out his locality, but he knew that it could not be ; a savage 
would not approach him in that careless manner. Although 
there was beautiful starlight, yet the trees and the dense 
undergrowth made it very dark on the bank of the river, 
close to which he lay. He always adopted the precau- 
tion of tying his canoe with a piece of rawhide about 
twenty feet long, which allowed it to swing from the bank 
at that distance ; he did this so that in case of an emer- 
gency he might cut the string, and glide off without making 
any noise. As the sound of the footsteps grew more dis- 
tinct, he presently observed a huge grizzly bear coming 
down to the water and swimming for the canoe. The 
great animal held his head up as if scenting the venison. 
The captain snatched his axe as the most available means 
to defend himself in such a scrape, and stood with it up- 
lifted, ready to drive it into the brains of the monster. 
The bear reached the canoe, and immediately put his fore 
paws upon the hind end of it, nearly turning it over. The 
captain struck one of the brute's feet with the edge of the 
axe, which made him let go with that foot, but he held on 
with the other, and he received this time a terrific blow on 
the head, that caused him to drop away from the canoe 
entirely. Nothing more was seen of the bear, and the 



LA LANDE AND • PURSLEY 33 

captain thought he must have sunk in the stream and 
drowned. He was evidently after the fresh meat, which 
he scented from a great distance. In the canoe the next 
morning there were two of the bear's claws, which had 
been cut off by the well-directed blow of the axe. These 
were carefully preserved by Williams for many years as a 
trophy which he was fond of exhibiting, and the history of 
which he always delighted to tell. 

As he was descending the river with his peltries, which 
consisted of one hundred and twenty-five beaver-skins, 
besides some of the otter and other smaller animals, he 
overtook three Kansas Indians, who were also in a canoe 
going down the river, as he learned from them, to some 
post to trade with the whites. They manifested a very 
friendly disposition towards the old trapper, and expressed 
a wish to accompany him. He also learned from them, to 
his great delight, that he was on the Big Arkansas, and 
not more than five hundred miles from the white settle- 
ments. He was well enough versed in the treachery of 
the Indian character to know just how much he could 
repose in their confidence. He was aware that they 
would not allow a solitary trapper to pass through their 
country with a valuable collection of furs, without, at least, 
making an effort to rob. him. He knew that their plan 
would be to get him into a friendly intercourse, and then, 
at the first opportunity, strip him of everything he pos- 
sessed ; consequently he was determined to get rid of 
them as soon as possible, and to effect this, he plied his 
oars with all diligence. The Indians, like most North 
American savages, were laz} r , and had no disposition to 
labour in that way, but took it quite leisurely, satisfied 
with being carried down by the current. Williams soon 
left them in the rear, and, as he supposed, far behind 
him. When night came on, however, as he had worked 
all day, and slept none the night before, he resolved to 



34 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

turn aside into a bunch of willows to take a few hours' 
rest. But he had not stopped more than forty minutes 
when he heard some Indians pull to the shore just above 
him on the same side of the river. He immediately 
loosened his canoe from its moorings, and glided silently 
away. He rowed hard for two or three hours, when he 
again pulled to the' bank and tied up. 

Only a short time after he had landed, he heard Indians 
again going on shore on the same side of the stream as 
himself. A second time he repeated his tactics, slipped' 
out of his place of concealment, arid stole softly away. He 
pulled on vigorously until some time after midnight, when 
he supposed he could with safety stop and snatch a little 
sleep. He felt apprehensive that he was in a dangerous 
region, and his anxiety kept him wide awake. It was very 
lucky that he did not close his eyes ; for as he was lying 
in the bottom of his canoe he heard for the third time a 
canoe land as before. He was now perfectly satisfied 
that he was dogged by the Kansans whom he had passed 
the preceding clay, and in no very good humour, therefore, 
he picked up his rifle, and walked up to the bank where 
he had heard the Indians land. As he suspected, there 
were the three savages. When they saw the captain, they 
immediately renewed their expressions of friendship, and 
invited him to partake of their hospitality. He stood aloof 
from them, and shook his head in a rage, charging them with 
their villanous purposes. In the short, sententious manner 
of the Indians, he said to them : " You now follow me three 
times ; if you follow me again, I kill you ! " and wheeling 
around abruptly, returned to his canoe. A third time the 
solitary trapper pushed his little craft from the shore and set 
off down stream, to get away from a region where to sleep 
would be hazardous. He plied his oars the remainder of 
the night, and solaced himself with the thought that no evil 
had befallen him, except the loss of a few hours' sleep. 



LA LANDE AND PURSLEY 35 

While he was escaping from his villanous pursuers, he 
was running into new dangers and difficulties. The fol- 
lowing day he overtook a large band of the same tribe, 
under the leadership of a chief, who were also descending 
the river. Into the hands of these savages he fell a pris- 
oner, and was conducted to one of their villages. The 
principal chief there took all of his furs, traps, and other 
belongings. A very short time after his capture, the Kan- 
sans went to war with the Pawnees, and carried Captain 
Williams with them. In a terrible battle in which the 
Kansans gained a most decided victory, the old trapper 
bore a conspicuous part, killing a great number of the 
enemy, and by his excellent strategy brought about the 
success of his captors. When they returned to the village, 
Williams, who had ever been treated with kindness by 
the inhabitants, was now thought to be a wonderful war- 
rior, and could have been advanced to all the savage 
honours ; he might even have been made one of their prin- 
cipal chiefs. The tribe gave him his liberty for the great 
service he had rendered it in its difficulty with an inveter- 
ate foe, but declining all proffered promotions, he decided 
to return to the white settlements on the Missouri, at 
the mouth of the Kaw, the covetous old chief retaining 
all his furs, and indeed everything he possessed excepting 
his rifle, with as many rounds of ammunition as would be 
necessary to secure him provisions in the shape of game 
on his route. The veteran trapper had learned from the 
Indians while with them that they expected to go to Fort 
Osage on the Missouri River to receive some annuities 
from the government, and he felt certain that his furs 
would be there at the same time. 

After leaving the Kansans he travelled on toward the 
Missouri, and soon struck the beginning of the sparse 
settlements. Just as evening was coming on, he arrived 
at a cluster of three little log-cabins, and was received 



36 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

with genuine backwoods hospitality by the proprietor, 
who had married an Osage squaw. Williams was not 
only very hungry, but very tired ; and, after enjoying 
an abundant supper, he became stupid and sleepy, and 
expressed a wish to lie down. The generous trapper 
accordingly conducted him to one of the cabins, in which 
there were two beds, standing in opposite corners of the 
room. He immediately threw himself upon one, and was 
soon in a very deep sleep. About midnight his slumbers 
were disturbed by a singular and ver} r frightful kind of 
noise, accompanied by struggling on the other bed. What 
it was, Williams was entirely at a loss to understand. 
There were no windows in the cabin, the door was shut, 
and it was as dark as Egypt. A fierce contest seemed 
to be going on. There were deep groanings and hard 
breathings ; and the snapping of teeth appeared almost 
constant. For a moment the noise would subside, then 
again the struggles would be renewed, accompanied as 
before with groaning, deep sighing, and grinding of teeth. 
The captain's bed-clothes consisted of a couple of 
blankets and a buffalo-robe, and as the terrible struggles 
continued he raised himself up in the bed, and threw the 
robe around him for protection, his rifle having been left 
in the cabin where his host slept, while his knife was 
attached to his coat, which he had hung on the corner 
post of the other bedstead from which the horrid strug- 
gles emanated. In an instant the robe was pulled off, and 
he was left uncovered and unprotected ; in another mo- 
ment a violent snatch carried away the blanket upon which 
he was sitting, and he was nearly tumbled off the bed 
with it. As the next thingf might be a blow in the dark, 
he felt that it was high time to shift his quarters ; so he 
made a desperate leap from the bed, and alighted on the 
opposite side of the room, calling for his host, who imme- 
diately came to his relief by opening the door. Williams 



LA LANDE AND PURSLEY 



37 



then told him that the devil — or something as bad, he be- 
lieved — was in the room, and he wanted a light. The 
accommodating trapper hurried away, and in a moment 
was back with a candle, the light of which soon revealed 
the awful mystery. It was an Indian, who at the time 
was struggling in convulsions, which he was subject to. 
He was a superannuated chief, a relative of the wife of 
the hospitable trapper, and generally made his home there. 
Absent when Captain Williams arrived, he came into the 
room at a very late hour, and went to the bed he usually 
occupied. No one on the claim knew of his being there 
until he was discovered, in a dreadfully mangled con- 
dition. He was removed to other quarters, and Williams, 
who was not to be frightened out of a night's rest, soon 
sunk into sound repose. 

Williams reached the agency by the time the Kansas 
Indians arrived there, and, as he suspected, found that the 
wily old chief had brought all his belongings, which he 
claimed, and the agent made the savages give up the stolen 
property before he would p&y them a cent of their annui- 
ties. He took his furs down to St. Louis, sold them there 
at a good price, and then started back to the Rocky 
Mountains on another trapping tour. 




'/(■per in Vie ftdv Iti/ly 



CHAPTER III 



CAPTAIN BECKNELL S EXPEDITION SUFFERINGS FROM THIRST 

AUGUSTE CHOUTEAU IMPRISONMENT OF MCKNIGHT AND 

CHAMBERS THE CACHES STAMPEDING MULES FIRST 

MILITARY ESCORT ACROSS THE PLAINS CAPTAIN ZEBULON 

PIKE SUBLETTE AND SMITH MURDER OF MCNESS IN- 
DIANS NOT THE AGGRESSORS 



Sin 'Mj&jo 'o>mfc$j& 
iantdFe. 



N 1812 a Captain Beck- 
nell, who had been on 
a trading expedition to 
the country of the Co- 
manches in the summei 
of 1811, and had done 
remarkably well, deter- 
mined the next season to 
change his objective point 
to Santa Fe, and instead 
of the tedious process of 
bartering with the In- 
dians, to sell out his stock 
to the New Mexicans. 
Successful in this, his first 
venture, he returned to 
the Missouri River with a well-filled purse, and intensely 
enthusiastic over the result of his excursion to the newly 
found market. 

Excited listeners to his tales of enormous profits were 
not lacking, who, inspired by the inducement he held 
out to them, cheerfully invested five thousand dollars in 

38 




EARLY TRADERS 39 

merchandise suited to the demands of the trade, and were 
eager to attempt with him the passage of the great plains. 
In this expedition there were thirty men, and the amount of 
money in the undertaking was the largest that had yet been 
ventured. The progress of the little caravan was without 
extraordinary incident, until it arrived at " The Caches " 
on the Upper Arkansas. There Becknell, who was in 
reality a man of the then " Frontier," bold, plucky, and 
endowed with excellent sense, conceived the ridiculous 
idea of striking directly across the country for Santa Fe 
through a region absolutely unexplored; his excuse for 
this rash movement being that he desired to avoid the 
rough and circuitous mountain route he had travelled on 
his first trip to Taos. 

His temerity in abandoning the known for the unknown 
was severely punished, and his brave men suffered untold 
misery, barely escaping with their lives from the terrible 
straits to which they were reduced. Not having the re- 
motest conception of the region through which their new 
trail was to lead them, and naturally supposing that water 
would be found in streams or springs, when they left the 
Arkansas they neglected to supply themselves with more 
than enough of the precious fluid to last a couple of days. 
At the end of that time they learned, too late, that they 
were in the midst of a desert, with all the tortures of thirst 
threatening them. 

Without a tree or a path to guide them, they took an 
irregular course by observations of the North Star, and the 
unreliable needle of an azimuth pocket-compass. There was 
a total absence of water, and when what they had brought 
with them in their canteens from the river was exhausted, 
thirst began its horrible office. In a short time both men 
and animals were in a mental condition bordering on dis- 
traction. To alleviate their acute torment, the dogs of 
the train were killed, and their blood, hot and sickening, 



40 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

eagerly swallowed ; then the ears of the mules were cut 
off for the same purpose, but such a substitute for water 
only added to their sufferings. They would have perished 
had not a superannuated buffalo bull that had just come 
from the Cimarron River, where he had gone to quench his 
thirst, suddenly appeared, to be immediately killed and 
the contents of his stomach swallowed with avidity. It is 
recorded that one of those who partook of the nauseous 
liquid said afterward, " nothing had ever passed his lips 
which gave him such exquisite delight as his first draught 
of that filthy beverage." 

Although they were near the Cimarron, where there 
was plenty of water, which but for the affair of the buffalo 
they never would have suspected, they decided to retrace 
their steps to the Arkansas. 

Before they started on their retreat, however, some of 
the strongest of the party followed the trail of the animal 
that had saved their lives to the river, where, filling all the 
canteens with pure water, they returned to their comrades, 
who were, after drinking, able to march slowly toward the 
Arkansas. 

Following that stream, they at last arrived at Taos, 
having experienced no further trouble, but missed the trail 
to Santa Fe, and had their journey greatly prolonged by 
the foolish endeavour of the leader to make a short cut 
thither. 

As early as 1815, Auguste P. Chouteau and his partner, 
with a large number of trappers and hunters, went out to 
the valley of the Upper Arkansas for the purpose of 
trading with Indians, and trapping on the numerous 
streams of the contiguous region. 

The island on which Chouteau established his trading- 
post, and which bears his name even to this daj r , is in 
the Arkansas River on the boundary line of the United 
States and Mexico. It was a beautiful spot, witli a rich 



EARLY TRADERS 41 

carpet of grass and delightful groves, and on the American 
side was a heavily timbered bottom. 

While occupying the island, Chouteau and his old 
hunters and trappers were attacked by about three hun- 
dred Pawnees, whom they repulsed with the loss of thirty 
killed and wounded. These Indians afterward declared 
that it was the most fatal affair in which they were ever 
engaged. It was their first acquaintance with American 
guns. 

The general character of the early trade with New 
Mexico was founded on the system of the caravan. She 
depended wpon the remote ports of old Mexico, whence 
was transported, on the backs of the patient burro and 
mule, all that was required by the primitive tastes of the 
primitive people ; a very tedious and slow process, as may 
be inferred, and the limited traffic westwardly across the 
great plains was confined to this fashion. At the date of 
the legitimate and substantial commerce with New Mexico, 
in 1824, wheeled vehicles were introduced, and traffic as- 
sumed an importance it could never have otherwise attained, 
and which now, under the vast system of railroads, has 
increased to dimensions little dreamed of "by its origina- 
tors nearly three-quarters of a century ago. 

It was eight years after Pursley's pilgrimage before the 
trade with New Mexico attracted the attention of specu- 
lators and adventurers. Messrs. McKnight, 1 Beard, and 
Chambers, with about a dozen comrades, started with a 
supply of goods across the unknown plains, and by good 
luck arrived safely at Santa Fe. Once under the jurisdic- 
tion of the Mexicans, however, their trouble began. All 
the party were arrested as spies, their wares confiscated, 
and themselves incarcerated at Chihuahua, where the 
majority of them were kept for almost a decade. Beard 

1 McKnight was murdered south of the Arkansas by the Comanches in 
the winter of 1822. 



42 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

and Chambers, having by some means escaped, returned 
to St. Louis in 1822, and, notwithstanding their dreadful 
experience, told of the prospects of the trade with the 
Mexicans in such glowing colours that they induced some 
individuals of small capital to fit out another expedition, 
with which they again set out for Santa Fe. 

It was really too late in the season ; they succeeded, 
however, in reaching the crossing of the Arkansas without 
any difficulty, but there a violent snowstorm overtook them 
and they were compelled to halt, as it was impossible to 
proceed in the face of the blinding blizzard. On an island 1 
not far from where the town of Cimarron, on the Santa 
Fe Railroad, is now situated, they were obliged to remain 
for more than three months, during which time most of 
their animals died for want of food and from the severe 
cold. When the weather had moderated sufficiently to 
allow them to proceed on their journey, they had no trans- 
portation for their goods and were compelled to hide them 
in pits dug in the earth, after the manner of the old French 
voyageurs in the early settlement of the continent. This 
method of secreting furs and valuables of every character 
is called caching, from the French word "to hide." Gregg 
thus describes it: "The cache is made by digging a hole 
in the ground, somewhat in the shape of a jug, which is 
lined with dry sticks, grass, or anything else , that will 
protect its contents from the dampness of the earth. In 
this place the goods to be concealed are carefully stowed 
away; and the aperture is then so effectually closed as to 
protect them from the rains. In caching, a great deal of 
skill is often required to leave no sign whereby the cunning 
savage may discover the place of deposit. To this end, 
the excavated earth is carried some distance and carefully 
concealed, or thrown into a stream, if one be at hand. The 
place selected for a cache is usually some rolling point, 
1 Chouteau's Island. 



EARLY TRADERS 43 

sufficiently elevated to be secure from inundations. If it 
be well set with grass, a solid piece of turf is cut out large 
enough for the entrance. The turf is afterward laid back, 
and, taking root, in a short time no signs remain of its ever 
having been molested. However, as every locality does 
not afford a turfy site, the camp-fire is sometimes built 
upon the place, or the animals are penned over it, which 
effectually destroys all traces." 

Father Hennepin 1 thus describes, in his quaint style, how 
he built a cache on the bank of the Mississippi, in 1680 : 
" We took up the green sodd, and laid it by, and digg'd a 
hole in the Earth where we put our Goods, and cover'd 
them with pieces of Timber and Earth, and then put in 
again the green Turf; so that 'twas impossible to suspect 
that any Hole had been digg'd under it, for we flung the 
Earth into the River." 

After caching their goods, Beard and the party went on 
to Taos, where they bought mules, and returning to their 
caches transported their contents to their market. 

The word " cache " still lingers among the " old-timers" of 
the mountains and plains, and has become a provincialism 
with their descendants ; one of these will tell you that he 
cached his vegetables in the side of the hill ; or if he is out 
hunting and desires to secrete himself from approaching 
game, he will say, " I am going to cache behind that 
rock," etc. 

The place where Beard's little expedition wintered was 
called "The Caches" for years, and the name has only 
fallen into disuse within the last two decades. I remem- 
ber the great holes in the ground when I first crossed the 
plains, a third of a century ago. 

The immense profit upon merchandise transported across 
the dangerous Trail of the mid-continent to the capital 
of New Mexico soon excited the cupidity of other mer- 
1 Hennepiyi's Journal. 



44 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

chants east of the Missouri. When the commonest do- 
mestic cloth, manufactured wholly from cotton, brought 
from two to three dollars a yard at Santa Fe\ and other 
articles at the same ratio to cost, no wonder the commerce 
with the far-off market appeared to those who desired to 
send goods there a veritable Golconda. 

The importance of internal trade with New Mexico, 
and the possibilities of its growth, were first recognized 
by the United States in 1824, the originator of the 
movement being Mr. Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, 
who frequently, from his place in the Senate, prophe- 
sied the coming greatness of the West. He introduced 
a bill which authorized the President to appoint a com- 
mission to survey a road from the Missouri River to 
the boundary line of .New Mexico, and from thence on 
Mexican territory witli the consent of the Mexican gov- 
ernment. The signing of this bill was one of the last 
acte of Mr. Monroe's official life, and it was carried 
into effect by his successor, Mr. John Quincy Adams, but 
unfortunately a mistake was made in supposing that the 
Osage Indians alone controlled the course of the proposed 
route. It was partially marked out as far as the Arkansas, 
by raised mounds ; but travellers continued to use the old 
wagon trail, and as no negotiations had been entered into 
with the Comanches, Cheyennes, Pawnees, or Kiowas, these 
warlike tribes continued to harass the caravans when these 
arrived in the broad valley of the Arkansas. 

The American fur trade was at its height at the time 
when the Santa Fe trade was just beginning to assume pro- 
portions worth}' of notice ; the difference between the two 
enterprises being very marked. The fur trade was in 
the hands of immensely wealthy companies, while that to 
Santa Fe was carried on by individuals with limited capi- 
tal, who, purchasing goods in the Eastern markets, had them 
transported to the Missouri River, where, until the trade 



EARLY TRADERS 45 

to New Mexico became a fixed business, everything was 
packed on mules. As soon, however, as leading merchants 
invested their capital, about 1824, the trade grew into vast 
proportions, and wagons took the place of the patient 
mule. Later, oxen were substituted for mules, it having 
been discovered that the}' possessed many advantages over 
the former, particularly in being able to draw heavier 
loads than an equal number of mules, especially through 
sandy or muddy places. 

For a long time, the traders were in the habit of pur- 
chasing their mules in Santa Fe and driving them to the 
Missouri ; but as soon as that useful animal was raised in 
sufficient numbers in the Southern States to supply the 
demand, the importation from New Mexico ceased, for the 
reason that the American mule was in all respects an im- 
mensely superior animal. 

Once mules were an important object of the trade, and 
those who dealt in them and drove them across to the river 
on the Trail" met with many mishaps; frequently whole 
droves, containing from three to five hundred, were stolen 
by the savages en route. The latter soon learned that it 
was a very easy thing to stampede a caravan of mules, for, 
once panic-stricken, it is impossible to restrain them, and 
the Indians having started them kept them in a state of 
rampant excitement by their blood-curdling yells, until 
they, had driven them miles beyond the Trail. 

A story is told of a small band of twelve men, who, 
while encamped on the Cimarron River, in 1826, with 
but four serviceable guns among them, were visited by a 
party of Indians, believed to be Arapahoes, who made at 
first strong demonstrations of friendship and good-will. 
Observing the defenceless condition of the traders, they 
went away, but soon returned about thirty strong, each pro- 
vided with a lasso, and all on foot. The chief then began 
by informing the Americans that his men were tired of 



46 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

walking, and must have horses. Thinking it folly to offer 
any resistance, the terrified traders told them if one animal 
apiece would satisfy them, to go and catch them. This 
they soon did ; but finding their request so easily complied 
with, the Indians held a little parley together, which re- 
sulted in a new demand for more — they must have two 
apiece ! " Well, catch them ! " was the acquiescent reply 
of the unfortunate band; upon which the savages mounted 
those they had already secured, and, swinging their lassos 
over their heads, plunged among the stock with a furious 
yell, and drove -off the entire caballacla of nearly five 
hundred head of horses, mules, and asses. 

In 1829 the Indians of the plains became such a terror 
to the caravans crossing to Santa Fe, that the United 
States government, upon petition of the traders, ordered 
three companies of infantry and one of riflemen, under 
command of Major Bennet Riley, to escort the annual 
caravan, which that year started from the town of Frank- 
lin. Missouri, then the eastern terminus of the Santa Fe 
trade, as far as Chouteau's Island, on the Arkansas, which 
marked the boundary between the United States and 
Mexico. 1 The caravan started from the island across the 
dreary route unaccompanied by any troops, but had pro- 
gressed only a few miles when it was attacked by a band 

1 The line between the United States and Mexico (or New Spain, as it 
was called) was defined by a treaty negotiated in 1819, between the 
Chevalier de Onis, then Spanish minister at Washington, and John 
Quincy Adams, Secretary of State. According to its provisions, the 
boundary between Mexico and Louisiana, which had been added to the 
Union, commenced with the river Sabine at its entrance into the Gulf of 
Mexico, at about the twenty-ninth degree of north latitude and the 
ninety-fourth degree of longitude, west from Greenwich, and followed it 
as far as its junction with the Red River of Natchitoches, which then 
served to mark the frontier up to the one hundredth degree of west 
longitude, where the line ran directly north to the Arkansas, which it 
followed to its source at the forty-second degree of north latitude, whence 
another straight line was drawn up the same parallel to the Pacific coast. 



EARLY TRADERS 47 

of Kiowas, then one of the most cruel and bloodthirsty 
tribes on the plains. 1 

This escort, commanded by Major Riley, and another 
under Captain Wharton, composed of only sixty dragoons, 
five years later, were the sole protection ever given by the 
government until 1843, when Captain Philip St. George 
Cooke again accompanied two large caravans to the same 
point on the Arkansas as did Major Riley fourteen years 
before. 

As the trade increased, the Comanches, Pawnees, and 
Arapahoes continued to commit their depredations, and it 
was firmly believed by many of the freighters that these 
Indians were incited to their devilish acts by the Mexi- 
cans, who were always jealous of " Los Americanos." 

It was very rarely that a caravan, great or small, or even 
a detachment of troops, no matter how large, escaped the 
raids of these bandits of the Trail. If the list of those 
who were killed outright and scalped, and those more un- 
fortunate who were taken captive only to be tortured and 
their bodies horribly mutilated, could be collected from 
the opening of the traffic with New Mexico until the years 
1868-69, when General Sheridan inaugurated his mem- 
orable "winter campaign " against the allied plains tribes, 
and completely demoralized, cowed, and forced them on 
their reservations, about the time of the advent of the 
railroad, it would present an appalling picture ; and the 
number of horses, mules, and oxen stampeded and stolen 
during the same period would amount to thousands. 

As the excellent narrative of Captain Pike is not read 
as it should be by the average American, a brief reference 

1 This tribe kept up its reputation under the dreaded Satanta, until 
1868, — a period of forty years, — when it was whipped into submission 
by the gallant Custer. Satanta was its war chief, one of the most cruel 
savages the great plains ever produced. He died a few years ago in the 
state prison of Texas. 



48 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

to it may not be considered supererogatory. The cele- 
brated officer, who was afterward promoted to the rank 
of major-general, and died in the achievement of the 
victory of York, Upper Canada, in 1813, was sent in 1806 
on an exploring expedition up the Arkansas River, with 
instructions to pass the sources of Red River, for which 
those of the Canadian were then mistaken ; he, however, 
even went around the head of the latter, and crossing the 
mountains with an almost incredible degree of peril and 
suffering, descended upon the Rio del Norte with his little 
party, then but fifteen in number. 

Believing himself now on Red River, within the then 
assumed limits of the United States, he built a small 
fortification for his company, until the opening of the 
spring of 1807 should enable him to continue his descent 
to Natchitoches. As he was really within Mexican terri- 
tory, and only about eighty miles from the northern settle- 
ments, his position was soon discovered, and a force sent 
to take him to Santa Fe, which by treachery was effected 
without opposition. The Spanish officer assured him that 
the governor, learning that he had mistaken his way, had 
sent animals and an escort to convey his men and baggage 
to a navigable point on Red River (Rio Colorado), and 
that His Excellency desired very much to see him at Santa 
Fe, which might be taken on their way. 

As soon, however, as the governor had the too confid- 
ing captain in his power, he sent him with his men to the 
commandant general at Chihuahua, where most of his 
pajjers were seized, and he and his party were sent under 
an escort, via San Antonio de Bexar, to the United States. 

Many citizens of the remote Eastern States, who were 
contemporary with Pike, declared that his expedition was 
in some way connected with the treasonable attempt of 
Aaron Bun-. The idea is simply preposterous ; Pike's 
whole line of conduct shows him to have been of the most 



EARLY TRADERS 49 

patriotic character; never would lie for a moment have 
countenanced a proposition from Aaron Burr! 

After Captain Pike's report had been published to the 
world, the adventurers who were inspired by its glowing 
description of the country he had been so far to explore 
were destined to experience trials and disappointments of 
which they had formed no conception. 

Among them was a certain Captain Sublette, a famous 
old trapper in the era of the great fur companies, and 
with him a Captain Smith, who, although veteran pioneers 
of the Rocky Mountains, were mere novices in the many 
complications of the Trail ; but having been in the fast- 
nesses of the great divide of the continent, they thought 
that when they got down on the plains they could go any- 
where. They started with twenty wagons, and left the 
Missouri without a single one of the party being compe- 
tent to guide the little caravan on the dangerous route. 

From the Missouri the Trail was broad and plain enough 
for a child to follow, but when the)' arrived at the Cimar- 
ron crossing of the Arkansas, not a trace of former cara- 
vans was visible ; nothing but the innumerable buffalo-trails 
leading from everywhere to the river. 

When the party entered the desert, or Dry Route, as it 
was years afterward always, >and very properly, called in 
certain seasons of drought, the brave but too confident 
men discovered that the whole region was burnt up. They 
wandered on for several days, the horrors of death by 
thirst constantly confronting them. Water must be had 
or they would all perish ! At last Smith, in his desperation, 
determined to follow one of the numerous buffalo-trails, 
believing that it would conduct him to water of some char- 
acter, — a lake or pool or even wallow. He left the train 
alone; asked for no one to accompany him; for he ,was 
the very impersonation of courage, one of the most fearless 
men that ever trapped in the mountains. 



50 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

He walked on and on for miles, when, on ascending a 
little divide, he saw a stream in the valley beneath him. 
It was the Cimarron, and he hurried toward it to quench 
his intolerable thirst. When he arrived at its bank, to his 
disappointment it was nothing but a bed of sand; the 
sometime clear running river was perfectly dry. 

Only for a moment was he staggered ; he knew the 
character of many streams in the West ; that often their 
waters run under the ground at a short distance from the 
surface, and in a moment he was on his knees digging vie- 
orously in the soft sand. Soon the coveted fluid began to 
filter upwards into the little excavation he had made. He 
stooped to drink, and in the next second a dozen arrows 
from an ambushed band of Comanches entered his body. 
He did not die at once, however; it is related bj _ the Indians 
themselves that he killed two of their number before death 
laid him low. 

Captain Sublette and Smith's other comrades did not 
know what had become of him until some Mexican traders 
told them, having got the report from the very savages 
who committed the cold-blooded murder. 

Gregg, in his report of this little expedition, says: 
" Every kind of fatality seems to have attended this small 
caravan. Among other casualties, a clerk in their com- 
pany, named Minter, was killed. by a band of Pawnees, 
before they crossed the Arkansas. This, I believe, is the 
only instance of loss of life among the traders while en- 
gaged in hunting, although the scarcity of accidents can 
hardly be said to be the result of prudence. There is not 
a day that hunters do not commit some indiscretion ; such 
as straying at a distance of five and even ten miles from 
the caravan, frequently alone, and seldom in bands of more 
than two or three together. In this state, they must fre- 
quently be spied by prowling savages ; so that frequency 
of escape, under such circumstances, must be partly attrib- 



EARLY TRADERS 51 

uted to the cowardice of the Indians; indeed, generally 
speaking; the latter are very loth to charge upon even a 
single armed man, unless they can take him at a decided 
advantage. 

"Not long after, this hand of Captain Sublette's very 
narrowly escaped total destruction. They had fallen in 
with an immense horde of Blackfeet and Gros Ventres, 
and, as the traders were literally but a handful among 
thousands of savages, they fancied themselves for a while 
in imminent peril of being virtually 'eated up.' But as 
Captain Sublette possessed considerable experience, he was 
at no loss how to deal with these treacherous savages ; so 
that although the latter assumed a threatening attitude, 
he passed them without any serious molestation, and finally 
arrived at Santa Fe in safety." 

The virtual commencement of the Santa Ft! trade dates 
from 1822, and one of the most remarkable events in its 
history was the first attempt to introduce wagons in the 
expeditions. This was made in 1824 by a company of 
traders, about eighty in number, among whom were several 
gentlemen of intelligence from Missouri, who contributed 
by their superior skill and undaunted energy to render the 
enterprise completely successful. A portion of this com- 
pany employed pack-mules ; among the rest were owned 
twenty-five wheeled vehicles, of which one or two were 
stout road-wagons, two were carts, and the rest Dearborn 
carriages, the whole conveying some twenty-five or thirty 
thousand dollars' worth of merchandise. Colonel Marma- 
duke, of Missouri, was one of the party. This caravan ar- 
rived at Santa Fe safely, experiencing much less difficulty 
than they anticipated from a first attempt with wheeled 
vehicles. 

Gregg continues: "The early voyageurs, having but 
seldom experienced any molestation from the Indians, 
generally crossed the plains in detached bands, each indi- 



52 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

vidua! rarely carrying more than two or three hundred 
dollars' worth of stock. This peaceful season, however, 
did not last very long; and it is greatly to be feared that 
the traders were not always innocent of having instigated 
the savage hostilities that ensued in after years. Many 
seemed to forget the wholesome precept, that they should 
not be savages themselves because they dealt with savages. 
Instead of cultivating friendly feelings with those few 
who remained peaceful and honest, there was an occasional 
one always disposed to kill, even in cold blood, every 
Indian that fell into their power, merely because some of 
the tribe had committed an outrage either against them- 
selves or friends." 

As an instance of this, he relates the following: "In 
1826 two J'oung men named McNess and Monroe, having 
carelessly lain down to sleep on the bank of a certain 
stream, since known as McNess Creek, 1 were barbarously 
shot, with their own guns, as it was supposed, in the very 
sight of the caravan. When their comrades came up, they 
found McNess lifeless, and the other almost expiring. In 
this state the latter was carried nearly forty miles to the 
Cimarron River, where he died, and was buried according 
to the custom of the prairies, a very summary proceeding, 
necessarily. The corpse, wrapped- in a blanket, its shroud 
the clothes it wore, is interred in a hole varying in depth 
according to the nature of the soil, and upon the grave is 
piled stones, if any are convenient, to prevent the wolves 
from digging it up. Just as McNess's funeral ceremonies 
were about to be concluded, six or seven Indians appeared 
on the opposite side of the Cimarron. Some of the party 
proposed inviting them to a parley, while the rest, burning 
for revenge, evinced a desire to fire upon them at once. It 
is more than probable, however, that the Indians were not- 

1 McNess Creek is on the old Cimarron Trail to Santa F6, a little 
east of a line drawn south from Bent's Fort. 



EARLY TRADERS OS 

only innocent but ignorant of the outrage that had been 
committed, or they would hardly have ventured to ap- 
proach the caravan. Being quick of perception, they very 
soon saw the belligerent attitude assumed by the company, 
and therefore wheeled round and attempted to escape. 
One shot was fired, which brought an Indian to the 
ground, when he was instantly riddled with balls. Almost 
simultaneously another discharge of several guns followed, 
by which all the rest were either killed or mortally 
wounded, except one, who escaped to bear the news to his 
tribe. 

" These wanton cruelties had a most disastrous effect 
upon the prospects of the trade ; for the exasperated 
children of the desert became more and more hostile to the 
'pale-faces,' against whom they continued to wage a cruel 
war for many successive years. In fact this party suffered 
very severely a few days afterward. They were pursued 
by the enraged comrades of the slain savages to the 
Arkansas River, where they were robbed of nearly a thou- 
sand horses and mules." 

The author of this book, although having but little 
compassion for the Indians, must admit that, during more 
than a third of a century passed on the plains and in the 
mountains, he has never known of a war with the hostile 
tribes that was not caused by broken faith on the part 
of the United States or its agents. I will refer to two 
prominent instances : that of the outbreak of the Nez 
Perces, and that of the allied plains tribes. With the 
former a solemn treaty was made in 1856, guaranteeing 
to them occupancy of the Wallola valley forever. I. I. 
Stevens, who was governor of Washington Territory at the 
time, and ex-officio superintendent of Indian affairs in the 
region, met the Nez Perces, whose chief, " Wish-la-no-she," 
an octogenarian, when grasping the hand of the governor 
at the council said: "I put out my hand to the white man 



54 



THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 



when Lewis and Clark crossed the continent, in 1805, and 
have never taken it back since." The tribe kept its word 
until the white men took forcible possession of the valley 
promised to the Indians, when the latter broke out, and a 
prolonged war was the consequence. In 1867 Congress 
appointed a commission to treat with the Cheyennes, 
Kiowas, and Arapahoes, appropriating four hundred thou- 
sand dollars for the expenses of the commission. It met 
at Medicine Lodge in August of the year mentioned, and 
made a solemn treat} 7 , which the members of the com- 
mission, on the part of the United States, and the principal 
chiefs of the three tribes signed. Congress failed to make 
any appropriation to carry out the provisions of the treaty, 
and the Indians, after waiting a reasonable time, broke 
out, devastated the settlements from the Platte to the Rio 
Grande, destroying millions of dollars* worth of property, 
and sacrificing hundreds of men, women, and children. 
Another war was the result, which cost more millions, and 
under General Sheridan the hostile savages were whipped 
into a peace, which they have been compelled to keep. 






: "-»-x..... 







-A Cdfdvbn Corra/ed- 



CHAPTER IV 

THE ATAJO OR PACK-TRAIN OF MULES MEXICAN NOMENCLA- 
TURE OF PARAPHERNALIA MANNER OF PACKING THE 

" BELL-MARE " TOUGHNESS OF MULES AMONG PRECIPICES 

THE CARAVAN OF WAGONS — LARGEST WAGON-TRAIN EVER 

ON THE PLAINS STAMPEDES DUTIES OF PACKERS EN 

ROUTE ORDER OF TRAVELLING WITH PACK-TRAIN CHRIS. 

GILSON, THE FAMOUS PACKER 



lermari' 



S has been stated, until the 
year 1824 transportation 
across the plains was done 
by means of jjack-mules, 
the art of proi^erly load- 
ing which seems to be an 
intuitive attribute of the 
// native Mexican. The American, 
'J of course, soon became as expert, 
for nothing that the genus homo 
is capable of doing is impossi- 
ble to him ; but his teacher was 
the dark-visaged, superstitious, and 
profanity-expending Mexican arriero. 
A description of the equipment of a mule- 
train and the method of packing, together with some of the 
curious facts connected with its movements, may not be 
uninteresting, particularly as the whole thing, with rare 
exceptions in the regular army at remote frontier posts, 
has been relegated to the past, along with the caravan of the 




56 THE OLD SANTA FL TRAIL 

prairie and the overland coach. To this generation, bar- 
ring a few officers who have served against the Indians on 
the plains and in the mountains, a pack-mule train would 
be as great a curiosity as the hairy mammoth. In the fol- 
lowing particulars I have taken as a model the genuine 
Mexican pack-train or atajo, as it was called in their 
Spanish dialect, always used in the early clays of the 
Santa Y€ trade. The Americans made many modifica- 
tions, but the basis was purely Mexican in its origin. 
A pack-mule was termed a inula de carga, and his equip- 
ment consisted of several parts ; first, the saddle, or 
aparejo, a nearly square pad of leather stuffed with hay, 
which covered the animal's back on both sides equally. 
The best idea of its shape will be formed by opening a 
book in the middle and placing it saddle-fashion on the 
back of a chair. Each half then forms a flap of the con- 
trivance. Before the aparejo was adjusted to the mule, 
a salea, or raw sheep-skin, made soft by rubbing, was put 
on the animal's back, to prevent chafing, and over it the 
saddle-cloth, or xerga. On top of both was placed the 
aparejo, which was cinched by a wide grass-bandage. 
This band was drawn as tightly as possible, to such an 
extent that the poor brute grunted and groaned under the 
apparently painful operation, and when fastened he seemed 
to be cut in two. This always appeared to be the very 
acme of cruelty to the uninitiated, but it is the secret of 
successful packing ; the firmer the saddle, the more com- 
fortably the mule can travel, with less risk of being chafed 
and bruised. The aparejo is furnished with a huge crup- 
per, and this appendage is really the most cruel of all, for 
it is almost sure to lacerate the tail. Hardly a Mexican 
mule in the old days of the trade could be found which 
did not bear the scar of this rude supplement to the im- 
mense saddle. 

The load, which is termed a carga, was generally three 



f 

''iff i pi 

ndin 

jk j i ] 

i ■ 
of nnttti 

while tin? j 

: . •, 

■ ■ : 






al 






A PACK TRAIN TO SANTA FE, 1820 



h 



TRAINS AND PACKERS 57 

hundred pounds. Two arrieros, or packers, place the 
goods on the mule's back, one, the cargador, standing on 
the near side, his assistant on the other. The cargo, is 
then hoisted on top of the saddle if it is a single pack- 
age ; or if there are two of equal size and weight, one on 
each side, coupled by a rope, which balances them on the 
animal. Another stout rope is then thrown over all, 
drawn as tightly as possible under the belly, and laced 
round the packs, securing them firmly in their place. 
Over the load, to protect it from rain, is thrown a square 
piece of matting called a petate. Sometimes, when a mule 
is a little refractory, he is blindfolded by a thin piece of 
leather, generally embroidered, termed the tapojos, and 
he remains perfectly quiet while the process of packing 
is going on. When the load is securely fastened in its 
place, the blinder is removed. The man on the near side, 
with his knee against the mule for a purchase, as soon as 
the rope is hauled taut, cries out "Adios" and his assistant 
answers "Vaya!" Then the first says again, "Anda!" 
upon which the mule trots off to its companions, all of 
which feed around until the animals of the whole train are 
packed. It seldom requires more than five minutes for 
the two men to complete the packing of the animal, and 
in that time is included the fastening of the aperejo. It 
is surprising to note the degree of skill exercised by an 
experienced packer, and his apparently abnormal strength 
in handling the immense bundles that are sometimes trans- 
ported. By the aid of his knees used as a fulcrum, he 
lifts a package and tosses it on the mule's back without 
any apparent effort, the dead weight of which he could 
not move from the ground. 

An old-time atajo or caravan of pack-mules generally 
numbered from fifty to two hundred, and it travelled a 
jornado, or day's inarch of about twelve or fifteen miles. 
This day's journey was made without any stopping at 



58 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

noon, because if a pack-mule is allowed to rest, he gen- 
erally tries to lie down, and with his heavy load it is 
difficult for him to get on his feet again. Sometimes he 
is badly strained in so doing, jperhaps ruined forever. 
When the train starts out on the trail, the mules are so 
tightly bound with the ropes which confine the load that 
they move with great difficulty ; but the saddle soon 
settles itself and the ropes become loosened so that they 
have frequently to be tightened. On the march the 
arriero is kept busy nearly all the time ; the packs are 
constantly changing their position, frequently losing their 
balance and falling off; sometimes saddle, pack, and all 
swing under the animal's belly, and he must be unloaded 
and repacked again. 

On arriving at the camping-ground the pack-saddles 
with their loads are ranged in regular order, their freight 
being between the saddles, covered with the petates to 
protect it from the rain, and generally a ditch is dug 
around to carry off the water, if the weather is stormy. 
After two or three days' travel each mule knows its own 
pack and saddle, and comes up to it at the proper moment 
with an intelligence that is astonishing. If an animal 
should come whose pack is somewhere else, he is soundly 
kicked in the ribs by the rightful mule, and sent bruised 
and battered to his place. -He rarely makes a mistake in 
relation to the position of his own pack the second time. 

This method of transportation was so cheap, because of 
the low rate of wages, that wagon-freighting, even in the 
most level region, could not compete with it. Five dollars 
a month was the amount paid to the muleteers, but it was 
oftener five with rations, costing almost nothing, of corn 
and beans. Meat, if used at all, was found by the arrieros 
themselves. 

On the trail the mule-train is under a system of disci- 
pline almost as severe as that on board of a man-of-war. 



TRAINS AND PACKERS 59 

Every individual employed is assigned to his place and has 
certain duties to perform. There is a night-herder, called 
the savanero, whose duty it is to keep the animals from 
straying too far away, as they are all turned loose to shift 
for themselves, depending upon the grass alone for their 
subsistence. Each herd has a mulera, or bell-mare, which 
wears a bell hanging to a strap around her neck, and is 
kept in view of the other animals, who will never leave 
her. If the mare is taken away from the herd, every 
mule becomes really melancholy and is at a loss what to 
do or where to go. The cook of the party, or madre 
(mother) as he is called, besides his duty in preparing the 
food, must lead the bell-mule ahead of the train while 
travelling, the pack-animals following her with a devotion 
that is remarkable. 

Sometimes in traversing the narrow ledges cut around 
the sides of a precipitous trail, or crossing a narrow natu- 
ral bridge spanning the frightful gorges found everywhere 
in the mountains, a mule will be incontinently thrown off 
the slippery path, and fall hundreds of feet into the yawn- 
ing canon below. Generally instant death is their por- 
tion, though I recall an instance, while on an expedition 
against the hostile Indians thirty j r ears ago, where a num- 
ber of mules of our pack-train, loaded with ammunition, 
tumbled nearly five hundred feet down an almost per- 
pendicular chasm, and yet some of them got on their feet 
again, and soon rejoined their companions, without having 
suffered any serious injury. 

The wagons so long employed in this trade, after their 
first introduction in 182-1, were manufactured in Pitts- 
burgh, their capacity being about a ton and a half, and 
they were drawn by eight mules or the same number of 
oxen. Later much larger wagons were employed with 
nearly double the capacity of the first, hauled by ten and 
twelve mules or oxen. These latter were soon called 



60 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

prairie-schooners, which name continued to linger until 
transportation across the plains by wagons was completely 
extinguished by the railroads. 

Under Mexican rule excessive tariff iuqjosts were insti- 
tuted, amounting to about a hundred per cent upon goods 
brought from the United States, and for some years, during 
the administration of Governor Manuel Armijo, a purely 
arbitrary duty was demanded of five hundred dollars for 
every wagon-load of merchandise brought into the Prov- 
ince, whether great or small, and regardless of its intrinsic 
value. As gold and silver were paid for the articles 
brought by the traders, they were also required to pay a 
heavy duty on the precious metals they took out of 
the country. Yankee ingenuity, however, evaded much 
of these unjust taxes. When the caravan approached 
Santa Fe, the freight of three wagons was transferred to 
one, and the empty vehicles destroyed by fire ; while to 
avoid paying the export duty on gold and silver, they had 
large false axletrees to some of the wagons, in which the 
money was concealed, and the examining officer of the 
customs, perfectly unconscious of the artifice, passed them. 

The army, in its expeditions against the hostile Indian 
tribes, always employed wagons in transporting its pro- 
visions and munitions of war, except in the mountains, 
where the faithful pack-mule was substituted. The 
American freighters, since the occupation of New Mexico 
by the United States, until the transcontinental railroad 
usurped their vocation, used wagons only ; the Mexican 
nomenclature was soon dropped and simple English terms 
adopted : caravan became train, and majordomo, the per- 
son in charge, wagon-master. The latter was supreme. 
Upon him rested all the responsibility, and to him the 
teamsters rendered absolute obedience. He was neces- 
sarily a man of quick perception, always fertile in expedi- 
ents in times of emergency, and something of an engineer ; 



TRAINS AND PACKERS 61 

for to know how properly to cross a raging stream or a 
marshy slough with an outfit of fifty or sixty wagons re- 
quired more than ordinary intelligence. Then in the case 
of a stampede, great clear-headedness and coolness were 
needed to prevent loss of life. 

Stampedes were frequently very serious affairs, par- 
ticularly with a large mule-train. Notwithstanding the 
willingness and patient qualities of that animal, he can act 
as absurdly as a Texas steer, and is as easily frightened 
at nothing. Sometimes as insignificant a circumstance as 
a prairie-dog barking at the entrance to his burrow, a 
figure in the distance, or even the shadow of a passing 
cloud will -start every animal in the train, and away they 
go, rushing into each other, and becoming entangled in 
such a manner that both drivers and mules have often 
been crushed to death. It not infrequently happened that 
five or six of the teams would dash off and never could be 
found. I remember one instance that occurred on the 
trail between Fort Hays and Fort Dodge, during General 
Sheridan's winter campaign against the allied plains tribes 
in 1868. Three of the wagons were dragged away by the 
mules, in a few moments were out of sight, and were never 
recovered, although diligent search was made for them for 
some days. Ten years afterward a farmer, who had taken 
up a claim in what is now Rush County, Kansas, dis- 
covered in a ravine on his place the bones of some animals, 
decayed parts of harness, and the remains of three army- 
wagons, which with other evidence proved them to be the 
identical ones lost from the train so many years before. 

The largest six-mule wagon-train that was ever strung 
out on the plains transported the supplies for General 
Custer's command during the winter above referred to. 
It comprised over eight hundred army-wagons, and was 
four miles in length in one column, or one mile when in 
four lines, — the usual formation when in the field. 



OZ THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

The animals of the train were either hobbled or herded 
at night, according to the locality; if in an Indian coun- 
try, always hobbled or, preferably, tied up to the tongue 
of the wagon to which they belonged. The hobble is 
simply a strip of rawhide, with two slides of the same 
material. Placed on the front legs of the mule just at 
the fetlock, the slides pushed close to the limb, the ani- 
mal could move around freely enough to graze, but was 
not able to travel very fast in the event of a stampede. 
In the Indian country, it was usual at night, or in the 
daytime when halting to feed, to form a corral of the 
Avagons, by placing them in a circle, the wheels inter- 
locked and the tongues run under the axles, into which 
circle the mules, on the appearance of the savages, were 
driven, and which also made a sort of fortress behind 
which the teamsters could more effectually repel an 
attack. 

In the earlier trading expeditions to Santa Fe, the 
formation and march of the caravan differed materially 
from that of the army-train in later years. I here quote 
Gregg, whose authority on the subject has never been 
questioned. When all was ready to move nut on the 
broad sea of prairie, he said : " We held a council, at 
which the respective claims of the different aspirants for 
office were considered, leaders selected, and a system of 
government agreed upon — as is the standing custom of 
these promiscuous caravans. A captain was proclaimed 
elected, but his powers Avere not defined by any constitu- 
tional provision ; consequently, they Avere very vague and 
uncertain. Orders being only viewed as mere requests, 
the}' are often obeyed or neglected at the caprice of the 
subordinates. It is necessary to observe, however, that 
the captain is expected to direct the order of traA'el dur- 
ing the day and to designate the camping-ground at 
night, Avith many other functions of general character. 



TRAINS AND PACKERS 63 

. in the exercise of which the company find it convenient 
to acquiesce. 

"After this comes the task of organizing. The pro- 
prietors are first notified by proclamation to furnish a 
list of their men and wagons. The latter are generally 
apportioned into four divisions, particularly when the 
company is large. To each of these divisions, a lieuten- 
ant is appointed, whose duty it is to inspect every ravine 
and creek on the route, select the best crossings, and 
superintend what is called in prairie parlance the form- 
ing of each encampment. 

" There is nothing so much dreaded by inexperienced 
travellers as the ordeal of guard duty. But no matter 
what the condition or employment of the individual may 
be, no one has the slightest chance of evading the com- 
mon law of the prairies. The amateur tourist and the 
listless loafer are precisely in the same wholesome pve- 
dicament, — they must all take their regular turn at the 
watch. There is usually a set of genteel idlers attached 
to every caravan, whose wits are forever at work in de- 
vising schemes for whiling away their irksome hours at 
the expense of others. By embarking in these trips of 
pleasure, they are enabled to live without expense ; for 
the hospitable traders seldom refuse to accommodate even 
a loafing companion with a berth at their mess without 
charge. But these lounging attaches are expected at least 
to do good service by way of guard duty. None are ever 
permitted to furnish a substitute, as is frequently done in 
military expeditions ; for he that would undertake to stand 
the tour of another besides his own would scarcely be 
watchful enough for dangers of the prairies. Even the 
invalid must be able to produce unequivocal proofs of 
his inability, or it is a chance if the plea is admitted. 

" The usual number of watchers is eight, each standing 
a fourth of every alternate night. When the party is 



64 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

small, the number is generally reduced, while in the case 
of very small bands, they are sometimes compelled for 
safety's sake to keep watch on duty half the night. With 
large caravans the captain usually appoints eight ser- 
geants of the guard, each of whom takes an equal portion 
of men under his command. 

" The wild and motley aspect of the caravan can be but 
imperfectly conceived without an idea of the costumes of 
its various members. The most fashionable prairie dress 
is the fustian frock of the city-bred merchant, furnished 
with a multitude of pockets capable of accommodating a 
variety of extra tackling. Then there is the backwoods- 
man with his linsey or leather hunting-shirt — the farmer 
with his blue jean coat — the wagoner with his flannel 
sleeve vest — besides an assortment of other costumes 
which go to fill up the picture. 

" In the article of firearms there is also an equally in- 
teresting medley. The frontier hunter sticks to his rifle, 
as nothing could induce him to carry what he terms in 
derision 'the scatter-gun.' The sportsman from the in- 
terior flourishes his double-barrelled fowling-piece with 
equal confidence in its superiority. A great many were 
furnished beside with a bountiful supply of pistols and 
knives of every description, so that the party made al- 
together a very brigand-like appearance. 

" ' Catch up ! catch up ! ' is now sounded from the cap- 
tain's camp and echoed from every division and scattered 
group along the valley. The woods and dales resound 
with the gleeful yells of the light-hearted wagoners who, 
weary of inaction and filled with joy at the prospect of 
getting under way, become clamorous in the extreme. 
Each teamster vies with his fellow who shall be soonest 
ready ; and it is a matter of boastful pride to be the first 
to cry out, 'All's set.' 

" The uproarious bustle which follows, the hallooing of 



TRAINS AND PACKERS 65 

those in pursuit of animals, the exclamations which the 
unruly brutes call forth from their wrathful drivers, to- 
gether with the clatter of bells, the rattle of yokes and 
harness, the jingle of chains, all conspire to produce an 
uproarious confusion. It is sometimes amusing to observe 
the athletic wagoner hurrying an animal to its post — to 
see him heave upon the halter of a stubborn mule, while 
the brute as obstinately sets back, determined not to 
move a peg till his own good pleasure thinks it proper to 
do so — his whole manner seeming to say, 'Wait till your 
hurry's over.' I have more than once seen a driver hitch 
a harnessed animal to the halter, and by that process haul 
his mulishness forward, while each of his four projected 
feet would leave a furrow behind. 

"'All's set ! ' is finally heard from some teamster — 'All's 
set,' is directly responded from every quarter. ' Stretch 
out ! ' immediately vociferates the captain. Then the 
'heps! ' to the drivers, the cracking of whips, the tram- 
pling of feet, the occasional creak of wheels, the rumbling 
of the wagons, while ' Fall in ' is heard from head-quar- 
ters, and the train is strung out and in a few moments has 
started on its long journey." 

With an army-train the discipline was as perfect as that 
of a garrison. The wagon-master was under the orders 
of the commander of the troops which escorted the cara- 
van, the camps were formed with regard to strategic prin- 
ciples, sentries walked their beats and were visited by an 
officer of the day, as if stationed at a military post. 

Unquestionably the most expert packer I have known 
is Chris. Gilson, of Kansas. In nearly all the expeditions 
on the great plains and in the mountains he has been the 
master-spirit of the pack-trains. General Sheridan, who 
knew Gilson long before the war, in Oregon and Wash- 
ington, regarded the celebrated packer with more than 
ordinary friendship. For many years he was employed 



66 



THE OLD SANTA IE TRAIL 



by the government at the suggestion of General Sheridan, 
to teach the art of packing to the officers and enlisted 
men at several military posts in the West. He received a 
large salary, and for a long period was stationed at the 
immense cavalry depot of Fort Riley, in Kansas. Gilson 
was also employed by the British army during the Zulu 
war in Africa, as chief packer, at a salary of twenty dollars 
a day. Now, however, since the railroads have penetrated 
the once considered impenetrable fastnesses of the moun- 
tains, packing will be relegated to the lost arts. 














'■sms^-j.- J^gf^' — ----- - ■ 

\s<p/leyofJdnJojc dnd 
% - , bridge of fffe ff/o Pccoj 



CHAPTER V 



NARRATIVE OF BRYANTS PARTY OP SANTA FE TRADERS THE 

FIRST WAGON EXPEDITION ACROSS THE PLAINS A THRILL- 
ING STORY OF HARDSHIP AND PHYSICAL SUFFERING TER- 
RIBLE FIGHT WITH THE COMANCHES ABANDONMENT OF 

THE WAGONS ON FOOT OVER THE TRAIL BURIAL OF THEIR 

SPECIE ON AN ISLAND IN THE ARKANSAS NARRATIVE OF 

WILLIAM Y. HITT, ONE OF THE PARTY HIS ENCOUNTER 

WITH A COMANCHE THE FIRST ESCORT OF UNITED STATES 

TROOPS TO THE ANNUAL CARAVAN OF SANTA FE TRADERS, 

IN 1829 MAJOR BENNETT RILEY'S OFFICIAL REPORT TO THE 

WAR DEPARTMENT JOURNAL OF CAPTAIN COOKE 



m 

IfTc 




spri 



of 
of 



ARLY in the 

1828, a company 
young men residing in 
the vicinity of Franklin, 
Missouri, having heard 
related by a neighbour 
Avho had recently re- 
turned the wonderful 
story of a passage across 
the great plains, and the 
strange things to be seen 
in the land of the Greas- 
ers, determined to explore 
the region for themselves; 
making the trip in wag- 
ons, an innovation of a 
startling character, as heretofore only pack-animals had 
been employed in the limited trade with far-off Santa Fe. 

67 



68 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

The story of their journey can best be told in the words of 
one of the party : ' — 

" We had about one thousand miles to travel, and as 
there was no wagon-road in those early days across the 
plains to the mountains, we were compelled to take our 
chances through the vast wilderness, seeking the best route 
we could. 

" No signs of life were visible except the innumerable 
buffalo and antelope that were constantly crossing our 
trail. We moved on slowly from day to da} r without 
any incident worth recording and arrived at the Arkan- 
sas; made the passage and entered the Great American 
Desert lying be3 r ond, as listless, lonesome, and noise- 
less as a sleeping sea. Having neglected to carry any 
water with us, we were obliged to go without a drop for 
two days and nights after leaving the river. At last we 
reached the Cimarron, a cool, sparkling stream, ourselves 
and our animals on the point of perishing. Our joy at 
discovering it, however, was short-lived. We had scarcely 
quenched our thirst when we saw, to our dismay, a large 
band of Indians camped on its banks. Their furtive 
glances at us, and significant looks at each other, aroused 
our worst suspicions, and we instinctively felt we were 
not to get away without serious trouble. Contrary to 
our expectations, however, they did not offer to molest 

1 Mr. Bryant, of Kansas, who died a few years ago, was one of the pio- 
neers in the trade with Santa Fe. Previous to his decease he wrote for 
a Kansas newspaper a narrative of his first trip across the great plains ; 
an interesting monograph of hardship and suffering. For the use of this 
document I am indebted to Hon. Sol. Miller, the editor of the journal in 
which it originally appeared. I have, also used very extensively the notes 
of Mr. William Y. Hitt, one of the Bryant party, whose son kindly placed 
them at my disposal, and copied liberally from the official report of Major 
Bennett Biley, — afterward the celebrated general of Mexican War fame, 
and for wdiom the Cavalry Depot in Kansas is named ; as also from the 
journal of Captain Philip St. George Cooke, who accompanied Major 
Riley on his expedition. 



FIGHT WITH COMANCHES 69 

us, and we at once made up our minds they preferred to 
wait for our return, as we believed they had somehow 
learned of our intention to bring back from New Mexico 
a large herd of mules and ponies. 

" We arrived in Santa Fe on the 20th of July, with- 
out further adventure, and after having our stock of goods 
passed through the custom house, were granted the privi- 
lege of selling them. The majority of the party sold out 
in a very short time and started on their road to the 
States, leaving twenty-one of us behind to return later. 

" On the first day of September, those of us who had 
remained in Santa Fe commenced our homeward journey. 
We started with one hundred and fifty mules and horses, 
four wagons, and a large amount of silver coin. Nothing 
of an eventful character occurred until we arrived at the 
Upper Cimarron Springs, where we intended to encamp 
for the night. But our anticipations of peaceable repose 
were rudely dispelled ; for when Ave rode up on the sum- 
mit of the hill, the sight that met our eyes was appalling 
enough to excite the gravest apprehensions. It was a 
large camp of Comanches, evidently there for the purpose 
of robbery and murder. We could neither turn back nor 
go on either side of them on account of the mountainous 
character of the country, and we realized, when too late, 
that we were in a trap. 

" There was only one road open to us ; that right through 
the camp. Assuming the bravest look possible, and keeping 
our rifles in position for immediate action, we started on 
the perilous venture. The chief met us with a smile of 
welcome, and said, in Spanish : ' You must stay with us 
to-night. Our young men will guard } T our stock, and we 
have plenty of buffalo meat.' 

" Realizing the danger of our situation, we took advan- 
tage of every moment of time to hurry through their camp. 
Captain Means, Ellison, and myself were a little distance 



70 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

behind the wagons, on horseback; observing that the balance 
of our men were evading them, the blood-thirsty savages 
at once threw off their masks of dissimulation and in an 
instant we knew the time for a struggle had arrived. 

"The Indians, as we rode on, seized our bridle-reins and 
began to fire upon us. Ellison and I put spurs to our 
horses and got away, but Captain Means, a brave man, 
was ruthlessly shot and cruelly scalped while the life-blood 
was pouring from his ghastly wounds. 

" We succeeded in fighting them off until we had left 
their camp half a mile behind, and as darkness had settled 
down on us, we decided to go into camp ourselves. We 
tied our gray bell-mare to a stake, and went out and jingled 
the bell, whenever any of us could do so, thus keeping the 
animals from stampeding. We corralled our wagons for 
better protection, and the Indians kept us busy all night 
resisting their furious charges. We all knew that death at 
our posts would be infinitely preferable to falling into their 
hands ; so we resolved to sell our lives as dearly as possible. 

" The next day we made but five miles ; it was a 
continuous fight, and a very difficult matter to prevent 
their capturing us. This annoyance was kept up for four 
days ; they would surround us, then let up as if taking 
time to renew their strength, to suddenly charge upon us 
again, and they continued thus to harass us until we were 
almost exhausted from loss of sleep. 

" After leaving the Cimarron, we once more emerged on 
the open plains and flattered ourselves we were well rid of 
the savages ; but about twelve o'clock they came down 
on us again, uttering their demoniacal yells, which fright- 
ened our horses and mules so terribly, that we lost every 
hoof. A member of our party, named Hitt, in endeavouring 
to recapture some of the stolen stock, was taken by the 
savages, but luckily escaped from their clutches, after hav- 
ing been wounded in sixteen parts of his body ; he was 



FIGHT WITH COMANCHES 71 

shot, tomahawked, and speared. When the painted demons 
saw that one of their number had been killed by us, they 
left the field for a time, while we, taking advantage of the 
temporary lull, went back to our wagons and built breast- 
works of them, the harness, and saddles. From noon until 
two hours in the night, when the moon went down, the 
savages were apparently confident we would soon fall a 
prey to them, and they made charge after charge upon our 
rude fortifications. 

" Darkness was now upon us. There were two alterna- 
tives before us : should we resolve to die where we were, 
or attempt to escape in the black hours of the night? It 
was a desperate situation. Our little band looked the 
matter squarely in the face, and, after a council of war had 
been held, we determined to escape, if possible. 

" In order to carry out our resolve, it was necessary to 
abandon the wagons, together with a large amount of silver 
coin, as it would be impossible to take all of the precious 
stuff with us in our flight ; so we {Hacked up as much of it 
as we could carry, and, bidding our hard-earned wealth a 
reluctant farewell, stepped out in the darkness like spectres 
and hurried away from the scene of death. 

" Our proper course was easterly, but we went in a 
northerly direction in order to avoid the Indians. We 
travelled all that night, the next day, and a portion of its 
night until we reached the Arkansas River, and, having 
eaten nothing during that whole time excepting a few 
prickly-pears, were beginning to feel weak from the weight 
of our burdens and exhaustion. At this point we decided 
to lighten our loads by burying all of the money we had 
carried thus far, keeping onh T a small sum for each man. 
Proceeding to a small island in the river, our treasure, 
amounting to over ten thousand silver dollars, was cached 
in the ground between two cottonwood trees. 

" Believing now that we were out of the usual range of 



72 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

the predatory Indians, we shot a huffalo and an antelope 
which we cooked and ate without salt or bread ; but no 
meal has ever tasted better to me than that one. 

" We continued our journey northward for three or four 
days more, when, reaching Pawnee Fork, we travelled 
down it for more than a week, arriving again on the Old 
Santa Fe Trail. Following the Trail three days, we arrived 
at Walnut Creek, then left the river again and went east- 
wardly to Cow Creek. When we reached that point, we 
had become so completely exhausted and worn out from sub- 
sisting on buffalo meat alone, that it seemed as if there was 
nothing left for us to do but lie down and die. Finally it 
was determined to send five of the best-preserved men on 
ahead to Independence, two hundred miles, for the purpose 
of procuring assistance ; the other fifteen to get along as 
well as they could until succour reached them. 

" I was one of the five selected to go on in advance, and I 
shall never forget the terrible suffering we endured. We 
had no blankets, and it was getting late in the fall. Some 
of us were entirely barefooted, and our feet so sore that 
we left stains of blood at every step. Deafness, too, seized 
upon us so intensely, occasioned by our weak condition, that 
we could not hear the report of a gun fired at a distance 
of only a few feet. 

" At one place two of our men laid down their arms, 
declaring they could carry them no farther, and would 
die if they did not get water. We left them and went in 
search of some. After following a dry branch several miles, 
we found a muddy puddle from which we succeeded in 
getting half a bucket full, and, although black and thick, 
it was life for us and we guarded it with jealous eyes. 
We returned to our comrades about daylight, and the 
water so refreshed them they were able to resume the 
weary march. We travelled on until we arrived at the Big 
Blue River, in Missouri, on the bank of which we discov- 



FIGHT WITH COMANCHES 73 

ered a cabin about fifteen miles from Independence. The 
occupants of the rude shanty were women, seemingly very 
poor, but they freely offered us a pot of pumpkin they 
were stewing. When they first saw us, they were terribly 
frightened, because we looked more like skeletons than 
living beings. They jumped on the bed while we were 
greedily devouring the pumpkin, but we had to refuse 
some salt meat which they had also proffered, as our teeth 
were too sore to eat it. In a short time two men came to 
the cabin and took three of our men home with them. We 
had subsisted for eleven days on one turkey, a coon, a 
crow, and some elm bark, with an occasional bunch of wild 
grapes, and the pictures we presented to these good people 
they will never, probably, forget ; we had not tasted bread 
or salt for thirty-two daj'S. 

" The next day our newly found friends secured horses 
and guided us to Independence, all riding without saddles. 
One of the party had gone on to notify the citizens of our 
safety, and when we arrived general muster was going on, 
the town was crowded, and when the people looked upon 
us the most intense excitement prevailed. All business 
was suspended ; the entire pojDulation flocked around us 
to hear the remarkable story of our adventures, and to 
render us the assistance we so much needed. We were 
half-naked, foot-sore, and haggard, presenting such a piti- 
able picture that the greatest sympathy was immediately 
aroused in our behalf. 

" We then said that behind us on the Trail some- 
where, fifteen comrades were struggling toward Indepen- 
dence, or were already dead from their sufferings. In a 
very few minutes seven men with fifteen horses started 
out to rescue them. 

" They were gone from Independence several days, but 
had the good fortune to find all the men just in time to 
save them from starvation and exhaustion. Two were 



74 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

discovered a hundred miles from Independence, and the 
remainder scattered along the Trail fifty miles further in 
their rear. Not more than two of the unfortunate party 
were together. The humane rescuers seemingly brought 
back nothing but living skeletons wrapped in rags ; but 
the good people of the place vied with each other in their 
attentions, and under their watchful care the sufferers 
rapidly recuperated. 

"One would suppose that we had had enough of the 
great plains after our first trip ; not so, however, for in 
the spring we started again on the same journey. Major 
Riley, with four companies of regular soldiers, was de- 
tailed to escort the Santa Fe traders' caravans to the 
boundary line between the United States and Mexico, and 
we went along to recover the money we had buried, the 
command having been ordered to remain in camp to await 
our return until the 20th of October. 

"We left Fort Leavenworth about the 10th of May, and 
were soon again on the plains. Many of the troops had 
never seen any buffalo before, and found great sport in 
wantonly slaughtering them. At Walnut Creek we halted 
to secure a cannon which had been thrown into that 
stream two seasons previously, and succeeded in dragging 
it out. With a seine made of brush and grape vine, we 
caught more fine fish than we could possibly dispose of. 
One morning the camp was thrown into the greatest state 
of excitement by a band of Indians running an enormous 
herd of buffalo right into us. The troops fired at them 
by platoons, killing hundreds of them. 

" We marched in two columns, and formed a hollow 
square at night when we camped, in which all slept ex- 
cepting those on guard duty. Frequently some one would 
discover a rattlesnake or a horned toad in bed with him, 
and it did not take him a very long time to crawl out of 
his blankets ! 



FIGHT WITH COMANCHES 75 

" On the 10th of July, we arrived at the dividing line 
separating the two countries, and went into camp. The 
next day Major Riley sent a squad of soldiers to escort 
myself and another of our old part)-, who had helped bury 
the ten thousand dollars, to find it. It was a few miles 
further up the Arkansas than our camp, in the Mexican 
limits, and when we reached the memorable spot on the 
island, 1 we found the coin safe, but the water had washed 
the earth away, and the silver was exposed to view to ex- 
cite the cupidity of any one passing that way ; there were 
not many travellers on that lonely route in those days, 
however, and it would have been just as secure, probably, 
had we simply poured it on the ground. 

" We put the money in sacks and deposited it with Major 
Riley, and, leaving the camp, started for Santa Fe with 
Captain Bent as leader of the traders. We had not pro- 
ceeded far when our advanced guard met Indians. They 
turned, and when within two hundred yards of us, one man 
named Samuel Lamme was killed, his bod) 7 being completely 
riddled with arrows. His head was cut off, and all his 
clothes stripped from his body. We had a cannon, but 
the Mexicans who hauled it had tied it up in such a way 
that it could not be utilized in time to effect anything in 
the first assault ; but when at last it was turned loose upon 
the Indians, they fled in dismay at the terrible noise. 

" The troops at the crossing of the Arkansas, hearing the 
firing, came to our assistance. The next morning the hills 
were covered by fully two thousand Indians, who had evi- 
dently congregated there for the purpose of annihilating 
us, and the coming of the soldiers was indeed fortunate ; 
for as soon as the cowardly savages discovered them they 
fled, Major Riley accomjjanied us on our march for a few 
days, and, seeing no more Indians, he returned to his camp. 

" We travelled on for a week, then met a hundred Mexi- 
1 Chouteau's Island, at the mouth of Sand Creek. 



TG THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

cans who were out on the plains hunting buffalo. They 
had killed a great many and were drying the meat. We 
waited until they were ready to return and then all started 
for Santa Fe together. 

"At Rabbit-Ear Mountain the Indians had constructed 
breastworks in the brush, intending to fight it out there. 
The Mexicans were in the advance and had one of their 
number killed before discovering the enemy. We passed 
Point of Rocks and camped on the river. One of the 
Mexicans went out hunting and shot a huge panther; 
next morning he asked a companion to go with him and 
help skin the animal. They saw the Indians in the brush, 
and the one who had killed the panther said to the other, 
'Now for the mountains'; but his comrade retreated, and 
was despatched by the savages almost within reach of the 
column. 

"We now decided to change our destination, intending 
to oro to Taos instead of Santa Fe, but the p-overnor of the 
Province sent out troops to stop us, as Taos was not a 
place of entry. The soldiers remained with us a whole 
week, until we arrived at Santa F6", where we disposed 
of our goods and soon began to make preparations for our 
return trip. 

" When we were ready to start back, seven priests and 
a number of wealthy families, comfortably fixed in car- 
riages, accompanied us. The Mexican government or- 
dered Colonel Viscarra of the army, with five troops of 
cavalry, to guard us to the camp of Major Riley. 

" We experienced no trouble until we arrived at the 
Cimarron River. About sunset, just as we were prepar- 
ing to camp for the night, the sentinels saw a body of 
a hundred Indians approaching ; they fired at them and 
ran to camp. Knowing they had been discovered, the 
Indians came on and made friendly overtures ; but the 
Pueblos who were with the command of Colonel Viscarra 



FIGHT WITH COMANCHES 77 

wanted to fight them at once, saying the fellows meant 
mischief. We declined to camp with them unless they 
would agree to give up their arms ; they pretended they 
were willing to do so, when one of them put his gun at 
the breast of our interpreter and pulled the trigger. In 
an instant a bloody scene ensued : several of Viscarra's 
men were killed, together with a number of mules. Finally 
the Indians were whipped and tried to get away, but we 
chased them some distance and killed thirty-five. Our 
friendly Pueblos were delighted, and proceeded to scalp 
the savages, hanging the bloody trophies on the points of 
their spears. That night they indulged in a war-dance 
which lasted until nearly morning. 

" We were delighted to see a beautiful sunshiny day 
after the horrors of the preceding night, and continued our 
march without farther interruption, safely arriving at the 
camp on the boundary line, where Major Riley was waiting 
for us, as we supposed ; but his time having expired the 
day before, he had left for Fort Leavenworth. A courier 
was despatched to him, however, as Colonel Viscarra 
desired to meet the American commander and see his 
troops. The courier overtook Major Riley a short distance 
away, and he halted for us to come up. Both commands 
then went into camp, and spent several days comparing the 
discipline of the armies of the two nations, and having a 
general good time. Colonel Viscarra greatly admired our 
small arms, and took his leave in a very courteous manner. 

" We arrived at Fort Leavenworth late in the season, 
and from there we all scattered. I received my share of 
the money we had cached on the island, and bade my com- 
rades farewell, only a few of whom I have ever seen 
since." 

Mr. Hitt in his notes of this same perilous trip says: 
" When the grass had sufficiently started to insure the 
subsistence of our teams, our wagons were loaded with a 



78 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

miscellaneous assortment of merchandise and the first 
trader's caravan of wagons that ever crossed the plains 
left Independence. Before we had travelled three weeks 
on our journey, we were one evening confronted with 
the novel fact of camping in a country where not a 
stick of wood could be found. The grass was too green 
to burn, and we were wondering how our fire could be 
started with which to boil our coffee, or cook our bread. 
One of our number, however, while diligently searching 
for something to utilize, suddenly discovered scattered all 
around him a large quantity of buffalo-chips, and he soon 
had an excellent fire under way, his coffee boiling and his 
bacon sizzling over the glowing coals. 

" We arrived in Santa Fe without incident, and as ours 
was the first train of wagons that ever traversed the nar- 
row streets of the quaint old town, it was, of course, a 
great curiosity to the natives. 

" After a few days' rest, sight-seeing, and purchasing 
stock to replace our own jaded animals, preparations were 
made for the return trip. All the money we had received 
for our goods was in gold and silver, principally the latter, 
in consequence of which, each member of the company had 
about as much as he could convenientlj' manage, and, as 
events turned out, much more than he could take care of. 

" On the morning of the third day out, when we were not 
looking for the least trouble, our entire herd was stampeded, 
and we were left upon the prairie without as much as a 
single mule to pursue the fast-fleeing thieves. The Mexi- 
cans and Indians had come so suddenly upon us, and had 
made such an effective dash, that we stood like children 
who had broken their toys on a stone at their feet. We 
were so unprepared for such a stampede that the thieves 
did not approach within rifle-shot range of the camp to 
accomplish their object ; few of them coming within sight, 
even. 



FIGHT WITH COMANCHES 79 

"After the excitement had somewhat subsided and we 
began to realize what had been done, it was decided 
that while some should remain to guard the camp, others 
must go to Santa Fe to see if they could not recover the 
stock. The party that went to Santa Fe had no diffi- 
culty in recognizing the stolen animals ; but when they 
claimed them, they were laughed at by the officials of the 
place. They experienced no difficulty, however, in pur- 
chasing the same stock for a small sum, which the} 7 at 
once did, and hurried back to camp. By this unpleasant 
episode we learned of the stealth and treachery of the 
miserable people in whose country we were. We, there- 
fore, took every precaution to prevent a repetition of the 
affair, and kept up a vigilant guard night and day. 

" Matters progressed very well, and when we had trav- 
elled some three hundred miles eastwardly, thinking we 
were out of range of any predatory bands, as we had seen 
no sign of any living thing, we relaxed our vigilance some- 
what. One morning, just before dawn, the whole earth 
seemed to resound with the most horrible noises that ever 
greeted human ears; every blade of grass appeared to re- 
echo the horrid din. In a few moments every man was 
at his post, rifle in hand, ready for any emergency, and 
almost immediately a large band of Indians made their 
appearance, riding within rifle-shot of the wagons. A 
continuous battle raged for several hours, the savages dis- 
charging a shot, then scampering off out of range as fast 
as their ponies could carry them. Some, more brave than 
others, would venture closer to the corral, and one of these 
got the contents of an old-fashioned flint-lock musket in 
his bowels." 

" We were careful not all to fire at the same time, and 
several of our part) 7 , who were watching the effects of our 
shots, declared they could see the dust fly out of the robes 
of the Indians as the bullets struck them. It was learned 



80 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

afterward that a number of the savages were wounded, 
and that several had died. Many were armed with bows 
and arrows only, and in order to do any exeeution were 
obliged to come near the corral. The Indians soon discov- 
ered they were getting the worst of the fight, and, having 
run off all the stock, abandoned the conflict, leaving us 
in possession of the camp, but it can hardly be said mas- 
ters of the situation. 

" There we were : thirty-five pioneers upon the wild 
prairie, surrounded by a wily and terribly cruel foe, with- 
out transportation of any character but our own legs, and 
with five hundred miles of dangerous, trackless waste be- 
tween us and the settlements. We bad an abundance of 
money, but the stuff was absolutely worthless for the 
present, as there was nothing we could buy with it. 

" After the last savage had ridden away into the sand 
hills on the opposite side of the river, each one of us had 
a thrilling story to relate of his individual narrow escapes. 
Though none was killed, many received wounds, the 
scars of which they carried through life. I was wounded 
six times. Once was in the thigh by an arrow, and once 
while loading my rifle I had my ramrod shot off close to 
the muzzle of my piece, the ball just grazing my shoulder, 
tearing away a small portion of the skin. Others had 
equally curious experiences, but none were seriously in- 
jured. 

" After the excitement incident to the battle had sub- 
sided, the realization of our condition fully dawned upon 
us. When we were first robbed, we were only a short 
distance from Santa Fe, where our money easily procured 
other stock ; now there were three hundred miles behind us 
to that place, and the picture was anything but pleasant to 
contemplate. To transport supplies for thirty-five men 
seemed impossible. Our money was now a burden greater 
than we could bear; what was to be done with it? We 



FIGHT WITH COMANCHES 81 

would have no use for it on our way to the settlements, 
yet the idea of abandoning it seemed hard to accept. A 
vigilant guard was kept up that day and night, during 
which time we all remained in camp, fearing a renewal of 
the attack. 

" The next morning, as there were no apparent signs of 
the Indians, it was decided to reconnoitre the surrounding 
country in the hope of recovering a portion, at least, of our 
lost stock, which we thought might have become separated 
from the main herd. Three men were detailed to stay in 
the old camp to guard it while the remainder, in squads, 
scoured the hills and ravines. Not a horse or mule was 
visible anywhere; the stampede had been complete — not 
even the direction the animals had taken could be dis- 
covered. 

" It was late in the afternoon when I, having left my 
companions to continue the search and returning to camp 
alone, had gotten within a mile of it, that I thought 
I saw a horse feeding upon an adjoining hill. I at once 
turned my steps in that direction, and had proceeded but 
a short distance when three Indians jumped from their 
ambush in the grass between me and the wagons and ran 
after me. The men in camp had been watching my every 
movement, and as soon as they saw the savages were chas- 
ing me, they started in pursuit, running at their greatest 
speed to my rescue. 

" The savages sooii overtook me, and the first one that 
came up tackled me, but in an instant found himself flat 
on the ground. Before he could get up, the second one 
shared the same fate. By this time the third one arrived, 
and the two I had thrown grabbed me by the legs so that 
I could no longer handle myself, while the third one had a 
comparatively easy task in pushing me over. Fortunately, 
my head fell toward the camp and my fast-approaching com- 
rades. The two Indians held my legs to prevent my ris- 



82 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

ing, while the third one, who was standing over me, drew 
from his belt a tomahawk, and shrugging his head in his 
blanket, at the same time looking over his shoulder at my 
friends, with a tremendous effort and that peculiar grunt 
of all savages, plunged his hatchet, as he supposed, into 
my head, but instead of scuffling to free myself and rise to 
my feet, I merely turned my head to one side and the wicked 
weapon was buried in the ground, just grazing my ear. 

" The Indian, seeing that he had missed, raised his 
hatchet and once more shrugging his head in his blanket, 
and turning to look over his other shoulder, attempted to 
strike again, but the blow was evaded by a sudden toss of 
his intended victim's head. Not satisfied with two abortive 
trials, the third attempt must be made to brain me, and 
repeating the same motions, with a great ' Ugh ! ' he 
seemed to put all his strength into the blow, which, 
like the others, missed, and spent its force in the earth. 
By this time the rescuing party had come near enough 
to prevent the savage from risking another effort, and 
he then addressed the other Indians in Spanish, which 
I understood, saying, ' We must run or the Americans 
will kill us!' and loosening his grasp, he scampered off 
with his companions as fast as his legs could take him, 
hurried on by several pieces of lead fired from the old flint- 
locks of the traders. 

" By sundown every man had returned to the forlorn 
camp, but not an animal had been recovered. Then, with 
tired limbs and weary hearts, we took turns at guarding 
the wagons through the long night. The next morning 
each man shouldered his rifle, and having had his propor- 
tion of the provisions and cooking utensils assigned him, 
we broke camp, and again turned to take a last look 
at the country behind us, in which we had experienced so 
much misfortune, and started on foot for our long march 
through the dangerous region ahead of us. 



FIGHT WITH COMANCHES 83 

" Scarcely had we gotten out of sight of our abandoned 
camp, when one of the party, happening to turn his eyes 
in that direction, saw a large volume of smoke rising in 
the vicinity ; then we knew that all of our wagons, and 
everything we had been forced to leave, were burning up. 
This proved that, although we had been unable to discover 
any signs of Indians, they had been lurking around us all 
the time, and this fact warned us to exercise the utmost 
vigilance in guarding our persons. 

" Though our burdens were very heavy, the first few 
days were passed without anything to relieve the dread- 
ful monotony of our wearisome march; but each succeed- 
ing twenty-four hours our loads became visibly lighter, as 
our supplies were rapidly diminishing. It had already 
become apparent that even in the exercise of the greatest 
frugality, our stock of provisions would not last until 
we could reach the settlements, so some of the most 
expert shots were selected to hunt for game ; but even in 
this they were not successful, the very birds seeming to 
have abandoned the country in its extreme desolation. 

"After eight days' travel, despite our most rigid econ- 
omy, an inventory showed that there was less than one 
hundred pounds of flour left. Day after day the hun- 
ters repeated the same old story : ' No game ! ' For two 
weeks the allowance of flour to each individual was but 
a spoonful, stirred in water and taken three times a da} T . 

" One afternoon, however, fortune smiled upon the weary 
party ; one of the hunters returned to camp with a turkey 
he had killed. It was soon broiling over a fire which will- 
ing hands had kindled, and our drooping spirits were re- 
vived for a while. While the turkey was cooking, a crow 
flew over the camp, and one of the company, seizing a gun, 
despatched it, and in a few moments it, too, was sizzling 
along with the other bird. 

" Now, in addition to the pangs of hunger, a scarcity of 



84 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

water confronted us, and one day we were compelled to 
resort to a buffalo-wallow and suck the moist clay where 
the huge animals had been stamping in the mud. We 
were much reduced in strength, yet each day added new 
difficulties to our forlorn situation. Some became so weak 
and exhausted that it was with the greatest effort they 
could travel at all. To divide the company and leave the 
more feeble behind to starve, or to be murdered by the 
merciless savages, was not considered for a moment ; but 
one alternative remained, and that was speedily accepted. 
As soon as a convenient camping-ground could be found, 
a halt was made, shelter established, and things made as 
comfortable as possible. Here the weakest remained to 
rest, while some of the strongest scoured the surrounding 
country in search of game. During this temporary halt 
the hunters were more successful than before, having killed 
two buffaloes, besides some smaller animals, in one morn- 
ing. Again the natural dry fuel of the prairies was called 
into requisition, and juicy steak was once more broiling 
over the lire. 

" With an abundance to eat and a few daj's' rest, the 
whole company revived and were enabled to renew their 
march homeward. We were now in the buffalo range, 
and every day the hunters were fortunate enough to kill 
one or more of the immense animals, thus keeping our 
larder in excellent condition, and starvation averted. 

" Doubting whether our good fortune in relation to 
food would continue for the remainder of our march, and 
our money becoming very cumbersome, it was decided by 
a majority that at the first good place we came to we 
would bury it and risk its being stolen by our enemies. 
When not more than half of our journey had been accom- 
plished, we came to an island in the river to which we 
waded, and there, between two large trees, dug a hole and 
deposited our treasure. We replaced the sod over the 



FIGHT WITH COMANCHES 85 

spot, taking the utmost precaution to conceal every sign 
of having disturbed the ground. Though no Indians had 
been seen for several days, a sharp lookout was kept in all 
directions for fear that some lurking savage might have 
been watching our movements. This task finished, with 
much lighter burdens, but more anxious than ever, we 
again took up our march eastwardly, and, thus relieved, 
were able to carry a greater quantity of provisions. 

" Having journeyed until we supposed we were within 
a few miles of the settlements, some of our number, 
scarcely able to travel, thought the best course to pursue 
would be to divide the company ; one portion to press on, 
the weaker ones to proceed by easier stages, and when the 
advance arrived at the settlements, they were to send 
back a relief for those plodding on wearily behind them. 
■ Soon a few who were stronger than the others reached 
Independence, Missouri, and immediately sent a party 
with horses to bring in their comrades ; so, at last, all got 
safely to their homes." 

In the spring of 1829, Major Bennett Riley of the 
United States army was ordered with four companies of 
the Sixth Regular Infantry to march out on the Trail as 
the first military escort ever sent for the protection of the 
caravans of traders going and returning between West- 
ern Missouri and Santa Fe. Captain Philip St. George 
Cooke, of the Dragoons, accompanied the command, and 
kept a faithful journal of the trip, from which, and the 
official report of Major Riley to the Secretary of War, I 
have interpolated here copious extracts. 

The journal of Captain Cooke states that the battalion 
marched from Fort Leavenworth, which was then called a 
cantonment, and, strange to say, had been abandoned by 
the Third Infantry on account of its unhealthiness. It 
was the 5th of June that Riley crossed the Missouri at 
the cantonment, and recrossed the river again at a point a 



86 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

little above Independence, in order to avoid the Kaw, or 
Kansas, which had no ferry. 

After live days 1 marching, the command arrived at 
Hound Grove, where the caravan had been ordered to 
rendezvous and wait for the escort. The number of 
traders aggregated about seventy-nine men, and their 
train consisted of thirty-eight wagons drawn by mules 
and horses, the former preponderating. Five days' march- 
ing, at an average of fifteen miles a day, brought them to 
Council Grove. Leaving the Grove, in a short time Cow 
Creek was readied, which at that date abounded in fish ; 
many of which, says the journal, " weighed several pounds, 
and were caught as fast as the line could be handled." 
The captain does not describe the variety to which he 
refers ; probably they were the buffalo. — a species of 
sucker, to be found to-day in ever_y considerable stream 
in Kansas. 

Having reached the Upper Valley, 1 bordered by high 
sand hills, the journal continues: "From the tops of the 
hills, we saw far away, in almost every direction, mile 
after mile of prairie, blackened with buffalo. One morn- 
ing, when our march was along the natural meadows by 
the river, we passed through them for miles ; they opened 
in front and closed continually in the rear, preserving a 
distance scarcely over three hundred paces. On one occa- 
sion, a bull had approached within two hundred yards 
without seeing us, until he ascended the river bank ; he 
stood a moment shaking his head, and then made a charge 
at the column. Several officers stepped out and fired at 
him, two or three dogs also rushed to meet him ; but right 
onward he came, snorting blood from mouth and nostril 
at every leap, and, with the speed of a horse and the 
momentum of a locomotive, dashed between two wagons, 
which the frightened oxen nearly upset ; the clogs were at 
1 Valley of the Upper Arkansas. 



FIGHT WITH COMANCHES 87 

his heels and soon he came to bay, and, with tail erect, 
kicked violently for a moment, and then sank in death, — 
the muscles retaining the dying rigidity of tension." 

About the middle of July, the command arrived at 
its destination, — Chouteau's Island, then on the boundary 
line between the United States and New Mexico. " Our 
orders were to march no further ; and, as a protection to 
the trade, it was like the establishment of a ferry to the 
mid-channel of a river. 

" Up to this time, traders had always used mules or 
horses. Our oxen were an experiment, and it succeeded 
admirably ; they even did better when water was very 
scarce, which is an important consideration. 

" A few hours after the departure of the trading com- 
pany, as we enjoyed a quiet rest on a hot afternoon, we 
saw beyond the river a number of horsemen riding furi- 
ously toward our camp. We all flocked out of the tents 
to hear the news, for they were soon recognized as 
traders. They stated that the caravan had been at- 
tacked, about six miles off in the sand hills, by an 
innumerable host of Indians ; that some of their com- 
panions had been killed , and they had run, of course, for 
help. There was not a moment's hesitation ; the word 
was given, and the tents vanished as if by magic. The 
oxen which were grazing near by were speedily yoked to 
the wagons, and into the river we marched. Then I 
deemed myself the most unlucky of men ; a day or two 
before, while eating- my breakfast, with my coffee in a 
tin cup, — notorious among chemists and campaigners for 
keeping it hot, — it was upset into my shoe, and on pull- 
ing off the stocking, it so happened that the skin came 
with it. Being thus hors de combat, I sought to enter 
the combat on a horse, which was allowed ; but I was 
put in command of the rear guard to bring up the bag- 
gage train. It grew late, and the wagons crossed slowly ; 



88 THE OLD SANTA TE TRAIL 

for the river unluckily took that particular time to rise 
fast, and, before all were over, we had to swim it, and by 
moonlight. We reached the encampment at one o'clock 
at night. All was quiet, and remained so until dawn, 
when, at the sound of our bugles, the pickets reported 
they saw a number of Indians moving off. On looking 
around us, we perceived ourselves and the caravan in the 
most unfavorable defenceless situation possible, — in the 
area of a natural amphitheatre of sand hills, about fifty 
feet high, and within gun-shot all around. There was 
the narrowest practicable entrance and outlet. 

" We ascertained that some mounted traders, in spite 
of all remonstrance and command, had ridden on in ad- 
vance, and when in the narrow pass beyond this spot, 
had bten suddenly beset by about fifty Indians ; all tied 
and escaped save one, who, mounted on a mule, was 
abandoned by his companions, overtaken, and slain. The 
Indians, perhaps, equalled the traders in number, but, 
notwithstanding their extraordinary advantage of ground, 
dared not attack them when they made a stand among 
their wagons ; and the latter, all well armed, were afraid 
to make a single charge, which would have scattered their 
enemies like sheep. 

•' Having buried the poor fellow's body, and killed an 
ox for breakfast, we left this sand hollow, which would 
soon have been roasting hot, and advancing through the 
defile — of which we took care to occupy the commanding 
ground — proceeded to escort the traders at least one 
day's march further. 

" When the next morning broke clear and cloudless, 
the command was confronted by one 'of those terrible 
hot winds, still frequent on the plains. The oxen with 
lolling tongues were incapable of going on ; the train 
was halted, and the suffering animals unyoked, but they 
stood motionless, making no attempt to graze. Late that 



FIGHT WITH COMANCHES 89 

afternoon, the caravan pushed on for about ten miles, 
where was the sandy bed of a dry creek, and fortunately, 
not far from the Trail, up the stream, a pool of water and 
an acre or two of grass was discovered. On the surface 
of the water floated thick the dead bodies of small fish, 
which the intense heat of the sun that day had killed. 

"Arriving at this point, it was determined to march 
no further into the Mexican territory. At the first light 
next day we were in motion to return to the river and 
the American line, and no further adventure befell us." 

While permanently encamped at Chouteau's Island, 
which is situated in the Arkansas River, the term of enlist- 
ment of four of the soldiers of Captain Cooke's command 
expired, and they were discharged. In his journal lie 
says : " Contrary to all advice they determined to return 
to Missouri. After having marched several hundred 
miles over a prairie country, being often on high hills 
commanding a vast prospect, without seeing a human be- 
ing or a sign of one, and, save the trail we followed, not 
the slightest indication that the country had ever been 
visited by man, it was exceedingly difficult to credit that 
lurking foes were around us, and spying our motions. It 
was so With these men ; and being armed, they set out on 
the first of August on foot for the settlements. That 
same night three of the four returned. They reported 
that, after walking about fifteen miles, they were sur- 
rounded by thirty mounted Indians. A wary old soldier 
of their number succeeded in extricating them before any 
hostile act had been committed ; but one of them, highly 
elated and pleased at their forbearance, insisted on return- 
ing among them to give them tobacco and shake hands. 
In this friendly act he was shot down. The Indians 
stripped him in an incredibly short time, and as quickly 
dispersed to avoid a shot ; and the old soldier, after cau- 
tioning the others to reserve their fire, fired among them, 



90 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

and probably with some effect. Had the others done the 
same, the Indians would have rushed upon them before 
they could have reloaded. They managed to make good 
their retreat in safety to our camp. 

" We were instructed to wait here for the return of the 
caravan, which was expected early in October. Our pro- 
visions consisted of salt and half rations of flour, besides 
a reserve of fifteen days' full rations, — as to the rest, we 
were dependent upon hunting. When the buffalo became 
scarce, or the grass bad, we marched to other ground, thus 
roving up and down the river for eighty miles. The first 
thing we did after camping was to dig and construct, 
with flour barrels, a well in front of each company"; water 
was always found at the depth of from two to four feet, 
varying with the corresponding height of the river, but 
clear and cool. Next we would build sod fire-places ; 
these, with network platforms of buffalo hide, used for 
smoking and drying meat, formed a tolerable additional 
defence, at least against mounted men. 

" Hunting was a military duty, done by detail, parties 
of fifteen or twenty going out with a wagon. Completely 
isolated, and beyond support or even communication, in 
the midst of many thousands of Indians, the utmost vigi- 
lance was maintained. Officer of the guard every fourth 
night, I was always awake and generally in motion the 
whole time of duty. Night alarms were frequent ; when, 
as we all slept in our clothes, Ave were accustomed to 
assemble instantly, and with scarcely a word spoken, take 
our places in the grass in front of each face of the camp, 
where, however wet, we sometimes lay for hours. 

" While encamped a few miles below Chouteau's Island, 
on the eleventh of August, an alarm was given, and we 
were under arms for an hour until daylight. During the 
morning, Indians were seen a mile or two off, leading 
their horses through the ravines. A captain, however, 



FIGHT WITH COMANCHES 91 

with eighteen men was sent across the river after buffalo, 
which we saw half a mile distant. In his absence, a large 
body of Indians came galloping down the river, as if to 
charge the camp, but the cattle were secured in good time. 
A company, of which I was lieutenant, was ordered to 
cross the river and support the first. We waded in some 
disorder through the quicksands and current, and just as 
we neared a dry sandbar in the middle, a volley was fired 
at us by a band of Indians, who that moment rode to the 
water's edge. The- balls whistled very near, but without 
damage ; I felt an involuntary twitch of the neck, and 
wishing to return the compliment instantly, I stooped 
down, and the company fired over my head, with what 
execution was not perceived, as the Indians immediately 
retired out of our view. This had passed in half a min- 
ute, and we were astonished to see, a little above, among 
some bushes on the same bar, the party we had been sent 
to support, and we heard that they had abandoned one of 
the hunters, who had been killed. We then saw, on the 
bank we had just left, a formidable body of the enemy in 
close order, and hoping to surprise them, we ascended the 
bed of the river. In crossing -the channel we were up to 
the arm-pits, but when we emerged on the bank, we found 
that the Indians had detected the movement, and retreated. 
Casting eyes beyond the river, I saw a number of the In- 
dians riding on both sides of a wagon and team which had 
been deserted, urging the animals rapidly toward the hills. 
At this juncture the adjutant sent an order to cross and 
recover the body of the slain hunter, who was an old sol- 
dier and a favourite. He was brought in with an arrow 
still transfixing his breast, but his scalp was gone. 

" On the fourteenth of October, we again marched on 
our return. Soon after, we saw smokes arise over the dis- 
tant hills ; evidently signals, indicating to different parties 
of Indians our separation and march, but whether prepara- 



92 



THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 



tory to an attack upon the Mexicans or ourselves, or rather 
our immense drove of animals, we could only guess. 

" Our march was constantly attended by great collec- 
tions of buffalo, which seemed to have a general muster, 
perhaps for migration. Sometimes a hundred or two — a 
fragment from the multitude — would approach within 
two or three hundred yards of the column, and threaten a 
charge which would have proved disastrous to the mules 
and their drivers. 

" Under the friendly cover of the shades of evening, 
on the eighth of November, our tatterdemalion veterans 
marched into Fort Leavenworth, and took quiet possession 
of the miserable huts and sheds left by the Third Infantry 
in the preceding May." 




VMMSWiMMM 




Sf/ecrJccnc in 5m1d tc 



CHAPTER VI 

THE EXPEDITION OF TEXANS TO THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL FOR 

THE PURPOSE OF ROBBING MEXICAN TRADERS INNOCENT 

CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES SUSPECTED, ARRESTED, 

AND CARRIED TO THE CAPITAL OF NEW MEXICO COLONEL 

snively's FORCE — warfield's SACKING OF THE VILLAGE 
OF MORA ATTACK UPON A MEXICAN CARAVAN KIT CAR- 
SON IN THE FIGHT A CRIME OF OVER SIXTY YEARS AGO 

— A ROMANCE OF THE TRAGEDY 



S early as November, 1842, 
a rumour was current in 
Santa Fe, and along the 
line of the Trail, that 
parties of Texans had 
left the Republic, for the 
purpose of attacking and 
robbing the caravans to 
the United States which 
were owned wholly by 
Mexicans. In conse- 
quence of this, several 
Americans were accused 
of being spies and act- 
ing in collusion with the 
Texans ; many were arrested and carried to Santa Fe, but 
nothing could be proved against them, and the rumours 
of the intended purposes of the Texans died out. 

Very early in May, however, of the following year, 1843, 
a certain Colonel Snively did organize a small force, com- 

93 




94 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

prising about two hundred men, which he led from North- 
ern Texas, his home, to the line of the Trail, with the 
intention of attacking and robbing the Mexican caravans 
which were expected to cross the plains that month and 
in June. 

When he arrived at the Arkansas River, he was there 
reinforced by another Texan colonel, named Warfield, 
with another small command. Gregg says : " This officer, 
with about twenty men, had some time previously attacked 
the village of Mora, on the Mexican frontier, killing five 
men, and driving off a number of horses. They were 
afterward followed by a party of Mexicans, however, who 
stampeded and carried away, not only their own horses, 
but those of the Texans. Being left afoot, the latter 
burned their saddles, and walked to Bent's Fort, where 
they were disbanded ; whence Warfield passed to Snively's 
camp, as before mentioned. 

" The Texans now advanced along the Santa Fe Trail, 
beyond the sand hills south of the Arkansas, when they 
discovered that a party of Mexicans had passed toward 
the river. They soon came upon them, and a skirmish 
ensuing, eighteen Mexicans were killed, and as many 
wounded, five of whom afterward died. The Texans suf- 
fered no injury, though the Mexicans were a hundred in 
number. The rest were all taken prisoners except two, 
who escaped and bore the news to General Armijo, who 
was encamped with a large force at Cold Spring, one hun- 
dred and forty miles beyond." 

Kit Carson figured conspicuously in this fight, or, 
rather, immediately afterward. His recital differs some- 
what from Gregg's account, but the stories substantially 
agree. Kit said that in April, previously to the assault 
upon Armijo's caravan, he had hired out as hunter 
to Bent's and Colonel St. Vrain's train caravan, which 
was then making its annual tour eastwardly. AVhen he 



A ROMANTIC TRAGEDY 95 

arrived at the crossing of Walnut Creek, 1 lie found the 
encampment of Captain Philip St. George Cooke, of the 
United States army, who had been detailed with his com- 
mand to escort the caravans to the New Mexican boundary. 
His force consisted of four troops of dragoons. The cap- 
tain informed Carson that coming on behind him from 
the States was a caravan belonging to a very wealthy 
Mexican. 

It was a richly loaded train, and in order to insure its 
better protection while passing through that portion of 
the country infested by the blood-thirsty Comanches and 
Apaches, the majordomo in charge had hired one hun- 
dred Mexicans as a guard. The teamsters and others 
belonging to the caravan had heard that a large body 
of Texans were lying in wait for them, and intended to 
murder and plunder them in retaliation for the way 
Armijo had treated some Texan prisoners he had got in 
his power at Santa Fe some time before. Of course, it 
was the duty of the United States troops to escort this 
caravan to the New Mexico line, but there their duty 
would end, as they had no authority to cross the border. 
The Mexicans belonging to the caravan were afraid they 
would be at the mercy of the Texans after they had parted 
company with the soldiers, and when Kit Carson met 
them, they, knowing the famous trapper and mountaineer 
well, asked him to take a letter to Armijo, who was then 
governor of New Mexico, and resided in Santa Fe, for 
which service they would give him three hundred dollars 
in advance. The letter contained a statement of the fears 
they entertained, and requested the general to send Mexi- 
can troops at once to meet them. 

Carson, who was then not blessed with much money, 
eagerly accepted the task, and immediately started on the 

1 About three miles east of the town of Great Bend, Barton County, 
Kansas. 



96 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

trail for Bent's Fort, in company with" another old moun- 
taineer and bosom friend named Owens. In a short time 
they arrived at the Fort, where Owens decided not to go 
any further, because they were informed by the men at 
Bent's that the Utes had broken out, and were scattered 
along the Trail at the most dangerous points, and he was 
fearful that his life would be endangered if he attempted 
to make Santa Fe. 

Kit, however, nothing daunted, and determined to do 
the duty for which he had been rewarded so munificently, 
started out alone on his perilous trip. Mr. Bent kindly 
furnished him with the best and fastest horse he had in his 
stables, but Kit, realizing the dangers to which he would 
be exposed, walked, leading his animal, ready to mount 
him at a moment's notice ; thus keeping him in a condi- 
tion that would enable Carson to fly and make his escape 
if the savages tried to capture him. His knowledge of 
the Indian character, and wonderful alertness in moments 
of peril, served him well ; for he reached the village of 
the hostile Indians without their discovering his prox- 
imity. Hiding himself in a rocky, bush-covered canon, 
he stayed there until night came on, when he continued 
his journey in the darkness. ( 

He took the trail to Taos, where he arrived in two or 
three days, and presented his letter to the alcalde, to be 
sent on to Santa Fe by special messenger. 

He was to remain at Taos until an answer from the 
governor arrived, and then return with it as rapidly as 
possible to the train. While at Taos, he was informed 
that Armijo had already sent out a^ company of one hun- 
dred soldiers to meet the caravan, and was to follow in 
person, with a thousand more. 

This first hundred were those attacked by Colonel 
Snively, as related by Gregg, who says that two sur- 
vived, who carried the news of the disaster to Armijo at 



A ROMANTIC TRAGEDY 97 

Cold Spring ; but Carson told me that only one got away, 
by successfully catching, during the heat of the fight, a 
Texan pony already saddled, that was grazing around 
loose. With him he made Armijo's camp and related to 
the Mexican general the details of the terribly unequal 
battle. Armijo, upon receipt of the news, "turned tail," 
and retreated to Santa Fe. 

Before Armijo left Santa Fe with his command, he had 
received the letter which Carson had brought from the 
caravan, and immediately sent one in reply for Carson to 
carry back, thinking that the old mountaineer might 
reach the wagons before he did. Carson, with his usual 
promptness, started on the Trail for the caravan, and 
came up with it while it was escorted by the dragoons, 
thus saving it from the fate that the Texans intended for 
it, as they dared not attempt any interference in the pres- 
ence of the United States troops. 

The rumour current in Santa Fe in relation to a prob- 
able raid of parties of Texans along the line of the Trail, 
for the purpose of attacking and robbing the caravans of 
the wealthy Mexican traders, was received with so little 
credence by the prominent citizens of the country, that 
several native trains left for the Missouri River without 
their proprietors having the slightest apprehension that 
they would not reach their destination, and make the 
return trip in safety. 

Among those who had no fear of marauders was Don 
Antonio Jose Chavez, who, in February, 1843, left Santa 
Fe for Independence with an outfit consisting of a num- 
ber of wagons, his private coach, several servants and 
other retainers. Don Antonio was a very wealthy Mexi- 
can engaged in a general mercantile business on a large 
scale in Albuquerque, who made all his purchases of 
goods in St. Louis, which was then the depot of supplies 
for the whole mountain region. He necessarily carried 

H 



98 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

with him on these journeys a large amount of money, in 
silver, which was the legal currency of the country, and 
made but one trip yearly to replenish the stock of goods 
required in his extensive trade in all parts of Mexico. 

Upon his arrival at Westport Landing, as Kansas City 
was then called, he would take the steamboat for St. 
Louis, leaving his coach, wagons, servants, and other 
appointments of his caravan behind him in the village of 
Westport, a few miles from the Landing. 

Westport Avas at that time, like all steamboat towns in 
the era of water navigation, the harbor of as great a lot 
of ruffians as ever escaped the gallows. There was espe- 
cially a noted gang of land pirates, the members of which 
had long indulged in speculations regarding the probable 
wealth of the Mexican Don, and how much coin he gen- 
erally carried with him. They knew that it must be con- 
siderable from the quantity of goods that always came by 
boat with him from St. Louis. 

At last a devilish plot was arranged to get hold of the 
rich trader's money. Nine men were concerned in the 
robbery, nearly all of whom were residents of the vicinity 
of Westport ; their leader was one John McDaniel, re- 
cently from Texas, from which government he claimed 
to hold a captain's commission, and one of their number 
was a doctor. It was evidently the intention of this band 
to join Warfield's party on the Arkansas, and engage in 
a general robbery of the freight caravans of the Santa Fe 
Trail belonging to the Mexicans ; but they had determined 
that Chavez should be their first victim, and in order to 
learn when he intended to leave Santa Fe" on his next trip 
east, they sent their spies out on the great highway. 

They did not dare attempt their contemplated robbery, 
and murder if necessary, in the State of Missouri, for 
there were too many citizens of the border who would 
never have permitted such a thing to go unpunished ; so 



A ROMANTIC TRAGEDY 99 

they knew that their only chance was to effect it in the 
Indian country of Kansas, where there was little or no 
law. 

Cow Creek, which debouches into the Arkansas at 
Hutchinson, where the Atchison, Tojueka and Santa Fe 
Railroad crosses the historic little stream, 1 was, like Big 
and Little Coon creeks, a most dangerous point in the 
transcontinental passage of freight caravans and overland 
coaches, in the days of the commerce of the prairies. It 
was on this purling little prairie brook that McDaniel's 
band lay in wait for the arrival of the ill-fated Don Anto- 
nio, whose imposing equipage came along, intending to 
encamp on the bank, one of the usual stopping-places on 
the route. 

The Don was taken a few miles south of the Trail, and 
his baggage rifled. All of his party were immediately 
murdered, but the wealthy owner of the caravan was 
spared for a few moments in order to make a confession 
of where his money was concealed, after which he was 
shot down in cold blood, and his body thrown into a 
ravine. 

It appears, however, that the ruffians had not completed 
their bloody work so effectually as they thought ; for one 
of the Mexican's teamsters escaped, and, making his way 
to Leavenworth, reported the crime, and was soon on his 
way back to the Trail, guiding a detachment of United 
States troops in pursuit of the murderers. 

John Hobbs, scout, trapper, and veteran plainsman, 
happened to be hunting buffalo on Pawnee Fork, on the 
ground where Larned is now situated, with a party from 
Bent's Fort. They were just on the point of crossing the 
Trail at the mouth of the Pawnee when the soldiers from 

1 The Old Santa Fe' Trail crosses the creek some miles north of Hutch- 
inson, and coincides 'with the track again at the mouth of Walnut Creek, 
three miles east of Great Bend. 



100 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Fort Leavenworth came along, and from them Hobbs and 
his companions first learned of the murder of Chavez on 
Cow Creek. As the men who were out hunting were all 
familiar with every foot of the region they were then in, 
the commanding officer of the troops induced them to ac- 
company him in his search for the murderers. 

Hobbs and his men cheerfull} r accepted the invitation, 
and in about four days met the band of cut-throats on the 
broad Trail, they little dreaming that the government had 
taken a hand in the matter. The band tried to escape by 
flight, but Hobbs shot the doctor's horse from under him, 
and a soldier killed another member of the band, when 
the remainder surrendered. 

The money, about twelve or fifteen thousand dollars, 1 
was all recovered, and the murderers taken to St. Louis, 
where some were hung and some imprisoned, the doctor 
escaping the death penalty by turning state's evidence. 
His sentence was incarceration in the penitentiary, from 
which he was pardoned after remaining there two years. 
Hobbs met the doctor some years after in San Francisco. 
He was then leading an honest life, publishing a news- 
paper, and begged his captor not to expose him. 

The money taken from the robbers was placed in charge 
of Colonel Owens, a friend of the Chavez family and a 
leading Santa Fe trader. He continued on to the river, 
purchased a stock of goods, and sent back the caravan 
to Santa Fe in charge, of Doctor Conley of Boonville, 
Missouri. 

Arriving at his destination, the widow of the deceased 
Chavez employed the good doctor to sell the goods and 

1 There are many conflicting accounts in regard to the sum Don An- 
tonio carried with him on that unfortunate trip. Some authorities put it 
as high as sixty thousand ; I have taken a mean of the various sums, 
and as this method will suffice in mathematics, perhaps we can approxi- 
mate the truth in this instance. 



A ROMANTIC TRAGEDY 



101 



take the sole supervision of her immense business interests, 
and there is a touch of romance attached to the terrible 
Kansas tragedy, which lies in the fact that the doctor in 
about two years married the rich widow, and lived very 
happily for about a decade, dying then on one of the large 
estates in New Mexico, which he had acquired by his 
fortunate union with the amiable Mexican lady. 




Pueb/o de Taoj 



CHAPTER VII 



MEXICO DECLARES WAR AGAINST THE UNITED STATES CON- 
GRESS AUTHORIZES THE PRESIDENT TO CALL FOR FIFTY 

THOUSAND VOLUNTEERS ORGANIZATION OF THE ARMY OF 

THE WEST PHENOMENON SEEN BY SANTA FE TRADERS IN 

THE SKY FIRST DEATH ON THE MARCH OF THE ARMY 

ACROSS THE PLAINS MEN IN A STARVING CONDITION 

ANOTHER DEATH BURIAL NEAR PAWNEE ROCK TROUBLE 

AT PAWNEE FORK MAJOR HOWARD'S REPORT 



General I lEXICO declared war 

>* against the United States' 
in April, 1846. In the 
following May, Congress 
passed an act authorizing 
the President to call into 
the field fifty thousand 
volunteers, designed to oper- 
ate against Mexico at three 
distinct points, and consist- 
ing of the Southern Wing, 
or the Army of Occupation, 
J/fjf"" 1, t i ie Army of the Centre, and the 
Army of the West, the latter to direct its 
march upon the city of Santa Fe. The original plan 
was, however, somewhat changed, and General Kearney, 
who commanded the Army of the West, divided his forces 
into three separate commands. The first he led in person 
to the Pacific coast. One thousand volunteers, under 
command of Colonel A. W. Doniphan, were to make a 

102 




• ..." :,.* - 



'ff|W 



MEXICO DECLARES WAR 103 

descent upon the State of Chihuahua, while the remainder 
and greater part of the forces, under Colonel Sterling 
Price, were to garrison Santa Fe after its capture. 

There is a pretty fiction told of the breaking out of 
the war between Mexico and the United States. Early 
in the spring of 1846, before it was known or even con- 
jectured that a state of war would be declared to exist 
between this government and Mexico, a caravan of twenty- 
nine traders, on their way from Independence to Santa 
Fe, beheld, just after a storm and a little before sunset, 
a perfectly distinct image of the Bird of Liberty, the 
American eagle, on the disc of the sun. When they 
saw it they simultaneously and almost involuntarily ex- 
claimed that in less than twelve months the Eagle of 
Liberty would spread his broad plumes over the plains 
of the West, and that the flag of our country would 
wave over the cities of New Mexico and Chihuahua. 
The student of the classics will remember that just 
before the assassination of Julius C;esar, both Brutus 
and Cassius, while in their places in the Roman Senate, 
saw chariots of fire in the sky. One story is as true, 
probabty, as the other, though separated by centuries of 
time. 

The Army of the West, under General Stephen W. 
Kearney, consisted of two batteries of artillery, com- 
manded by Major Clark ; three squadrons of the First 
United States Dragoons, commanded by Major Sumner ; 
the First Regiment of Missouri Cavalry, commanded by 
Colonel Doniphan, and two companies of infantry, com- 
manded by Captain Aubrey. This force marched in de- 
tached columns from Fort Leavenworth, and on the 1st 
of August, 1846, concentrated in camp on the Santa Fe 
Trail, nine miles below Bent's Fort. 

Accompanying the expedition was a party of the United 
States topographical engineers, under command of Lieu- 



104 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

tenant W. H. Emory. 1 In writing of this expedition, so far 
as its march relates to the Old Santa Fe Trail, I shall quote 
freely from Emory's report and Doniphan's historian. 2 

The practicability of marching a large army over the 
waste, uncultivated, uninhabited prairie regions of the 
West was universally regarded as problematical, but the 
expedition proved completely successful. Provisions were 
conveyed in wagons, and beef-cattle driven along for the 
use of the men. These animals subsisted entirely by 
grazing. To secure them from straying off at night, 
they were driven into corrals formed of the wagons, 
or tethered to an iron picket-pin driven into the ground 
about fifteen inches. At the outset of the expedition 
many laughable scenes took place. Our horses were gen- 
erally wild, , fiery, and unused to military trappings and 
equipments. Amidst the fluttering of banners, the sound- 
ing of bugles, the rattling of artillery, the clattering 
of sabres and also of cooking utensils, some of them 
took fright and scampered pell-mell over the wide prairie. 
Rider, arms and accoutrements, saddles, saddle-bags, tin 
cups, and coffee-pots, were frequently left far behind 
in the chase. No very serious or fatal accident, however, 
occurred from this cause, and all was right as soon as the 
affrighted animals were recovered. 

The Army of the West was, perhaps, composed of as 
fine material as an)'' other body of troops then in the field. 
The volunteer corps consisted almost entirely of young 
men of the country. 

1 General Emory of the Union army during the Civil War. He made 
an official report of the country through which the Army of the West 
passed, accompanied by maps, and his Beconnoissance in New Mexico 
and California, published by the government in 1848, is the first au- 
thentic record of the region, considered topographically and geologically. 

- Doniphan's Expedition, containing an account of the Conquest of 
New Mexico, etc. John T. Hughes, A.B., of the First Regiment of Mis- 
souri Cavalry. 1850. 



MEXICO DECLARES WAR 105 

On the 9th of July, a separate detachment of the troops 
arrived at the Little Arkansas, where the Santa Fe Trail 
crosses that stream, — now in McPherson County, Kansas. 
The mosquitoes, gnats, and black flies swarmed in that 
locality and nearly drove the men and animals frantic. 
While resting there, a courier came from the commands 
of General Kearney and Colonel Doniphan, stating that 
their men were in a starving condition, and asking for 
such provisions as could be spared. Lieutenant-Colonel 
Ruff of Doniphan's regiment, in command of the troops 
now camped on the Little Arkansas, was almost destitute 
himself. He had sent couriers forward to Pawnee Fork 
to stop a train of provisions at that point and have it 
wait there until he came up with his force, and he now 
directed the courier from Kearney to proceed to the same 
place and halt as many wagons loaded with supplies, as 
would suffice to furnish the three detachments with ra- 
tions. One of the couriers, in attempting to ford the 
fork of the Pawnee, which was bank-full, was drowned. 
His body was found and given a military funeral ; he was 
the first man lost on the expedition after it had reached 
the great plains, one having been drowned in the Mis- 
souri, at Fort Leavenworth, before the troops left. 

The author of Doniphan's Expedition says : " In approach- 
ing the Arkansas, a landscape of the most imposing and 
picturesque nature makes its appearance. While the green, 
glossy undulations of the prairie to the right seem to 
spread out in infinite succession, like waves subsiding after 
a storm, and covered with herds of gambolling buffalo, on 
the left, towering to the height of seventy-five to a hun- 
dred feet, rise the sun-gilt summits of the sand hills, 
along the base of which winds the broad, majestic river, 
bespeckled with verdant islets, thickly beset with cotton- 
wood timber, the sand hills resembling heaps of driven 
snow." I refer to this -statement to show how wonder- 



106 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

fully the settlement of the region has changed the physical 
aspect of that portion bordering the Arkansas River. Now 
those sand hills are covered with verdure, and this meta- 
morphosis has taken place within the last thirty years; for 
the author of this work well remembers how the great sand 
dunes used to shine in the sunlight, when he first saw them a 
third of a century ago. In coming from Fort Leavenworth 
up the Smoky Hill route to the Santa Fe Trail, where the 
former joined the latter at Pawnee Rock, the contour of 
the Arkansas could be easily traced by the white sand 
hills referred to, long before it was readied. 

On the 15th of July the combined forces formed a 
junction at Pawnee Fork, now within the city limits of 
Larned, Kansas. The river was impassable, but General 
Kearney, with the characteristic energy of his family, de- 
termined not to be dela} r ed, and to that end caused great 
trees to be cut down and their trunks thrown across the 
stream, over which the army passed, carrying in their 
arms the sick, the baggage, tents, and other parapherna- 
lia ; the animals being forced to swim. The empty 
bodies of the wagons, fastened to their running gear, 
were floated across by means of ropes, and hauled up 
the slippery bank by the troops. This required two 
whole daj'S ; and on the morning of the 17th, not an 
accident having occurred, the entire column was en route 
again, the infantry, as is declared in the official reports, 
keeping pace with the cavalry right along. Their feet, 
however, became terribly blistered, and, like the Conti- 
nentals at Valley Forge, their tracks were marked with 
blood. 

In a day or two after the command had left Pawnee 
Fork, while camping in a beautiful spot on the bank of 
the Arkansas, an officer, Major Howard, who had been 
sent forward to Santa Fe some time previously by the 
general to learn something of the feeling of the people in 



MEXICO DECLARES WAR 107 

relation to submitting to the government of the United 
States, returned and reported " that the common people, 
or plebeians, were inclined to favour the conditions of peace 
proposed by General Kearney ; viz. that if they woidd 
lay down their arms and take the oath of allegiance to the 
government of the United States, they should, to all in- 
tents and purposes, become citizens of the same republic, 
receiving the protection and enjoying the liberties guar- 
anteed to other American citizens ; but that the patricians 
who held the offices and ruled the country were hostile, 
and were making warlike preparations. He added, further, 
that two thousand three hundred men were already armed 
for the defence of the capital, and that others were 
assembling at Taos." This intelligence created quite a 
sensation in camp, and it was believed, and earnestly 
hoped, that the entrance of the troops into Santa Fe would 
be desperately opposed ; such is the pugnacious character 
of the average American the moment he dons the uniform 
of a soldier. ,. 

The army arrived at the Cimarron crossing of the 
Arkansas on the 20th, and during the march of nearly 
thirty miles from their last camp, a herd of about four 
hundred buffalo suddenly emerged from the Arkansas, 
and broke through the long column. In an instant the 
troops charged upon the surprised animals with guns, pis- 
tols, and even drawn sabres, and many of the huge beasts 
were slaughtered as they went dashing and thundering 
among the excited troopers and infantrymen. 

On the 29th an express from Bent's Fort brought news 
to General Kearney from Santa Fe that Governor Armijo 
had called the chief men together to deliberate on the best 
means of defending the city ; that hostile preparations 
were rapidly going on in all parts of New Mexico ; and 
that the American advance would be vigorously opposed. 
Some Mexican prisoners were taken near Bent's Fort, 



108 THE OLD SANTA EE TRAIL 

with blank letters on their persons addressed to the gen- 
eral ; it was supposed this piece of ingenuity was resorted 
to to deceive the American residents at the fort. These 
men were thought to be spies sent out from Santa Fe to 
get an idea of the strength of the army ; so they were 
shown everything in and around camp, and then allowed 
to depart in peace for Santa Fe, to report what they had 
seen. 

On the same date, the Army of the West crossed the 
Arkansas and camped on Mexican soil about eight miles 
below Bent's Fort, and now the utmost vigilance was 
exercised ; for the troops had not only to keep a sharp 
lookout for the Mexicans, but for the wily Comanches, 
in whose country their camp was located. Strong picket 
and camp guards were posted, and the animals turned 
loose to graze, guarded by a large force. Notwithstand- 
ing the care taken to confine them within certain limits, 
a pack of wolves rushed through the herd, and in an in- 
stant it was stampeded, and there ensued a scene of the 
wildest confusion. More than a thousand horses were 
dashing madly over the prairie, their rage and fright 
increased at every jump by the lariats and picket-pins 
which they had pulled up, and which lashed them like so 
many whips. After desperate exertions by the troops, the" 
majority were recovered from thirty to fifty miles dis- 
tant ; nearly a hundred, however, were absolutely lost 
and never seen again. 

At this camp the troops were visited by the war chief 
of the Arapahoes, who manifested great surprise at the 
big guns, and declared that the Mexicans would not stand 
a moment before such terrible instruments of death, but 
would escape to the mountains with the utmost despatch. 

On the 1st of August a new camp near Bent's Fort was 
established, from whence twenty men under Lieutenant 
de Courcy, with orders to proceed through the moun- 





< y 






■ 






■ 

u 

1 

I. 'Ofl 

, ; ij ■ : 



TROOPS GOING TO. MEXICO,. 1847 



MEXICO DECLARES WAR 109 

tains to the valley of Taos, to learn something of the 
disposition and intentions of the people, and to rejoin 
General Kearney on the road to Santa Fe. Lieutenant de 
Courcy, in his official itinerary, relates the following anec- 
dote : " We took three pack-mules laden with provisions, 
and as we did not expect to be long absent, the men took 
no extra clothing. Three days after we left the column 
our mules fell down, and neither gentle means nor the 
points of our sabres had the least effect in inducing them 
to rise. Their term of service with Uncle Sam was out. 
'"What's to be done?' said the sergeant. 'Dismount!' 
said I. ' Off with your shirts and drawers, men ! tie up 
the sleeves and legs, and each man bag one-twentieth part 
of the flour ! ' Having done this, the bacon was distrib- 
uted to the men also, and tied to the cruppers of their 
saddles. Thus loaded, we pushed on, without the slight- 
est fear of our provision train being cut off. 

" The march upon Santa Fe was resumed on the 2d of 
August. As we passed Bent's Fort the American flag 
was raised, in conrpliment to our troops, and, like our 
own, streamed most animatingly in the gale that swept 
from the desert, while the tops of the houses were crowded 
with Mexican girls and Indian squaws, intently behold- 
ing the American army." 

On the 15th of the month, the army neared Las Vegas ; 
when two spies who had been sent on in advance to see 
how matters stood returned and reported that two thou- 
sand Mexicans were camped at the pass a few miles be- 
yond the village, where they intended to offer battle. 

Upon receipt of this news, the general immediately 
formed a line of battle. The United States dragoons 
with the St. Louis mounted volunteers were stationed 
in front, Major Clark with the battalion of volunteer 
light artillery in the centre, and Colonel Doniphan's 
regiment in the rear. The companies of volunteer in- 



110 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

fantry were deployed on each side of the line o'f march as 
flankers. The supply trains were next in order, with 
Captain Walton's mounted company as rear guard. There 
was also a strong advance guard. The cartridges were 
hastily distributed ; the cannon swabbed and rigged ; the 
port-fires burning, and every rifle loaded. 

In passing through the streets of the curious-looking 
village of Las Vegas, the army was halted, and from the 
roof of a large house General Kearney administered to 
the chief officers of the place the oath of allegiance to the 
United States, using the sacred cross instead of the Bible. 
This act completed, on marched the exultant troops 
toward the cafion where it had been promised them that 
they should meet the enemy. 

On the night of the 16th, while encamped on the Pecos 
River, near the village of San Jose, the pickets captured 
a son of the Mexican General Salezar. who was acting the 
role of a spy, and two other soldiers of the Mexican army. 
Salezar was kept a close prisoner ; but the two privates 
were by order of General Kearney escorted through the 
camp and shown the cannon, after which they were allowed 
to depart, so that they might tell what they had seen. It 
was learned afterward that they represented the American 
army as composed of five thousand troops, and possessing 
so many cannons that they were not able to count them. 

When Armijo was certain that the Army of the West 
was really approaching Santa Fe, he assembled seven 
thousand troops, part of them well armed, and the re- 
mainder indifferently so. The Mexican general had writ- 
ten a note to General Kearney the day before the capture 
of the spies, saying that he would meet him on the follow- 
ing day. 

General Kearney, at this, hastened on, arriving at the 
mouth of the Apache cafion at noon, with his whole force 
ready and anxious to try the mettle of the Mexicans 



MEXICO DECLARES WAR 111 

in battle. Emory in his Meoonnoissance says : " The 
sun shone with dazzling brightness ; the guidons and 
colours of each squadron, regiment, and battalion were 
for the first time unfurled. The drooping horses seemed 
to take courage from the gay array. The trumpeters 
sounded ' to horse ' with spirit, and the hills multiplied 
and re-echoed the call. All wore the aspect of a gala day. 
About the middle of the day's march the two Pueblo 
Indians, previously sent to sound the chief men of that 
formidable tribe, were seen in the distance, at full speed,, 
with arms and legs both thumping the sides of their 
mules at every stride. Something was now surely in the 
wind. The smaller and foremost of the two dashed up 
to the general, his face radiant with joy, and exclaimed : 

" ' They are in the canon, my brave ; pluck up your 
courage and push thein out.' As soon as his extravagant 
delight at the prospect of a fight, and the pleasure of 
communicating the news, had subsided, he gave a pretty 
accurate idea of Armijo's force and position. 

" Shortly afterwards a rumour reached the camp that the 
two thousand Mexicans assembled in the canon to oppose 
us, have quarrelled among themselves ; and that Armijo, 
taking advantage of the dissensions, has fled with his 
dragoons and artillery to the south. It is well known 
that he has been averse to a battle, but some of his people 
threatened his life if he refused to fight. He had been, 
for some days, more in fear of his own people than of the 
American army, having seen what they are blind to, — 
the hopelessness of resistance. 

" As we approached the ancient town of Pecos, a large 
fat fellow, mounted on a mule, came toward us at full 
speed, and, extending his hand to the general, congratu- 
lated him on the arrival of himself and army. He said 
with a roar of laughter, 'Armijo and his troops have 
gone to h — 11, and the canon is all clear.' " 



11- 



THE OLD SANTA FE THAIL 



On reaching the canon, it was found to be true that the 
Mexican troops had dispersed and fled to the mountains, 
just as the old Arapahoe chief had said they would. 
There, however, thej r commenced to fortify, by chopping 
away the timber so that their artillery could play to better 
advantage upon the American lines, and by throwing up 
temporary breastworks. It was ascertained afterward, 
on undoubted authority, that Armijo had an army of 
nearly seven thousand Mexicans, with six pieces of artil- 
lery, and the advantage of ground, yet he allowed Gen- 
eral Kearney, with a force of less than two thousand, to 
march through the almost impregnable gorge, and on 
to the capital of the Province, without any attempt to 
oppose him. 

Thus was New Mexico conquered with but little loss 
relatively. For the further details of the movements of 
the Army of the West, the reader is referred to general 
history, as this book, necessarily, treats only of that por- 
tion of its march and the incidents connected with it 
while travelling the Santa Fe Trail. 




Ruiru of Church df Pccoj -~f:==s= 



CHAPTER VIII 



THE VALLEY OF TAOS FIRST WHITE SETTLER REBELLION 

OF THE MEXICANS A WOMAN DISCOVERS AND INFORMS 

COLONEL PRICE OF THE CONSPIRACY ASSASSINATION OF 

GOVERNOR BENT HORRIBLE BUTCHERIES BY THE PUEBLOS 

AND MEXICANS TURLEY's RANCH MURDER OF HARWOOD 

AND MARKHEAD ANECDOTE OF SIR WILLIAM DRUMMOND 

STEWART FIGHT AT THE MILLS BATTLE OF THE PUEBLO 

OF TAOS TRIAL OF THE INSURRECTIONISTS BAPTISTE, 

THE JUROR EXECUTION OF THE REBELS 



•/fe of dn 
/ndidn Chief- ■■ 



HE principal settlement 
in Xew Mexico, imme- 
diately after it was recon- 
quered from the Indians 
by the Spaniards, was, of 
course, Santa Fe, and 
ranking second to it, that 
of the beautiful Valle de 
Taos, which derived its 
name from the Taosa In- 
f dians, a few of whose di- 
rect descendants are still 
occupying a portion of the 
region. As the pioneers in 
the trade with Santa I^e 
made their first journeys to 
the capital of the Province 
by the circuitous route of the Taos valley, and the initial 
consignments of goods from the Missouri were disposed 
i 113 




■5Sf 



114 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

of in the little villages scattered along the road, the story 
of the Trail would be deficient in its integrity were the 
thrilling historical facts connected with the romantic re- 
gion omitted. 

The' reader will find on all maps, from the earliest pub- 
lished to the latest issued by the local railroads, a town 
with the name of Taos, which never had an existence. 
Fernandez cle Taos is the chief city, which has been known 
so long by the title of the valley that perhaps the mis- 
nomer is excusable after many years' use. 

Fernandez, or Taos as it is called, was once famous for 
its distilleries of whiskey, made out of the native wheat, 
a raw, fiery spirit, always known in the days of the Santa 
Fe trade as " Taos lightning," which was the most profita- 
ble article of barter with the Indians, who exchanged their 
buffalo robes and other valuable furs for a supply of it, at 
a tremendous sacrifice. 

According to the statement of Gregg, the first white 
settler of the fertile and picturesque valley was a Spaniard 
named Pando, who established himself there about 1745. 
This primitive pioneer of the northern part of the Prov- 
ince was constantly exposed to the raids of the powerful 
Comanches, but succeeded in creating a temporary friend- 
ship with the tribe by promising his daughter, then a 
young and beautiful infant, to the chief in marriage when 
she arrived at a suitable age. At the time for the ratifi- 
cation of her father's covenant with the Indians, however, 
the maiden stubbornly refused to fulfil her part. The 
savages, enraged at the broken faith of the Spaniard, 
immediately swept down upon the little settlement and 
murdered everybody there except the betrothed girl, 
whom they carried off into captivity. She was forced to 
live with the chief as his wife, but he soon became tired of 
her and traded her for another woman with the Pawnees, 
who, in turn, sold her to a Frenchman, a resident of St. 



THE VALLEY OF TAOS 115 

Louis. It is said that some of the most respectable fam- 
ilies of that city are descended from her, and fifty years 
ago there were many people living who remembered the 
old lady, and her pathetic story of trials and sufferings 
when with the Indians. 

The most tragic event in the history of the valley was 
the massacre of the provisional governor of the Territory 
of New Mexico, with a number of other Americans, shortly 
after its occupation by the United States. 

Upon General Kearney's taking possession of Santa Fe, 
acting under the authority of the President, he established 
a civil government and put it into operation. Charles 
Bent was appointed governor, and the other offices filled 
by Americans and Mexicans who were rigidly loyal to the 
political change. At this time the command of the troops 
devolved upon Colonel Sterling Price, Colonel Doniphan, 
who ranked him, having departed from Santa Fe on an 
expedition against the Navajoes. Notwithstanding the 
apparent submission of the natives of New Mexico, there 
were many malcontents among them and the Pueblo In- 
dians, and early in December, some of the leaders, dissatis- 
fied with the change in the order of things, held secret 
meetings and formulated plots to overthrow the existing 
government. 

Midnight of the 24th of December was the time ap- 
pointed for the commencement of their revolutionary 
work, which was to be simultaneous all over the country. 
The profoundest secrecy was to be preserved, and the 
most influential men, whose ambition induced them to 
seek preferment, were alone to be made acquainted with 
the plot. No woman was to be privy to it, lest it should 
be divulged. The sound of the church bell was to be the 
signal, and at midnight all were to enter the Plaza at the 
same moment, seize the pieces of artillery, and point them 
into the streets. 



116 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

The time chosen for the assault was Christmas- eve, 
when the soldiers and garrison would be indulging in 
wine and feasting, and scattered about through the city 
at the fandangoes, not having their arms in their hands. 
All the Americans, without distinction, throughout the 
State, and such New Mexicans as had favoured the Amer- 
ican government and accepted office by appointment of 
General Kearney, were to be massacred or driven from 
the country, and the conspirators were to seize upon and 
occupy the government. 

The conspiracy was detected in the following man- 
ner : a mulatto girl, residing in Santa Fe, had married 
one of the conspirators, and had by degrees obtained a 
knowledge of their movements and secret meeting's. To 
prevent the effusion of blood, which would inevitably be 
the result of a revolution, she communicated to Colonel 
Price all the facts of which she was in possession, and 
warned him to use the utmost vigilance. The rebellion 
was immediately suppressed, but the restless and unsatis- 
fied ambition of the leaders of the conspiracy did not long 
permit them to remain inactive. A second and still more 
dangerous conspiracy was formed. The most powerful 
and influential men in the State favoured the design, and 
even the officers of State and the priests gave their aid 
and counsel. The people everywhere, in the towns, vil- 
lages, and settlements, were exhorted to arm and equip 
themselves; to strike for their faith, their religion, and 
their altars ; and drive the ' heretics,' the ' unjust invaders 
of the country,' from their soil, and with fire and sword 
pursue them to annihilation. On the 18th of January this 
rebellion broke out in every part of the State simul- 
taneously. 

On the 14th of January, Governor Bent, believing the 
conspiracy completely crushed, with an escort of five per- 
sons, — among whom were the sheriff and circuit attor- 



THE VALLEY OF TAOS 117 

ney, — had left Santa Fe to visit his family, who resided 
at Fernandez. 

On the 19th, he was early roused from sleep by the 
populace, who, with the aid of the Pueblos of Taos, were 
collected in front of his dwelling striving to gain admit- 
tance. While they were effecting an entrance, he, with 
an axe, cut through an adobe wall into another house ; 
and the Mexican wife of the occupant, a clever though 
shiftless Canadian, hearing him, with all her strength 
rendered him assistance. He retreated to a room, but, 
seeing no way of escaping from the infuriated assailants, 
who tired upon him from a window, he spoke to his weep- 
ing wife and trembling children, and, taking paper from 
his pocket, endeavoured to write ; but fast losing strength, 
he commended them to God and his brothers and fell, 
pierced by a ball from a Pueblo. Then rushing in and 
tearing off his gray-haired scalp, the Indians bore it away 
in triumph. 

The circuit attorney, T. W. Leal, was scalped alive 
and dragged through the streets, his relentless perse- 
cutors pricking him with lances. After hours of suffer- 
ing, they threw him aside in the inclement weather, he 
imploring them earnestly to kill him to end his misery. 
A compassionate Mexican at last closed the tragic scene 
by shooting him. Stephen Lee, brother to the general, 
was killed on his own housetop. Narcisse Beaubien, son 
of the presiding judge of the district, hid in an outhouse 
with his Indian slave, at the commencement of the mas- 
sacre, under a straw-covered trough. The insurgents on 
the search, thinking that they had escaped, were leaving, 
but a woman servant of the family, going to the housetop, 
called to them, "Kill the young ones, and they will never 
be men to trouble us." They swarmed back and, by 
cruelly putting to death and scalping him and his slave, 
added two more to the list of unfortunate victims. 



118 THE OLD SANTA EE TRAIL 

The Pueblos and Mexicans, after their cruelties at Fer- 
nandez de Taos, attacked and destroyed Turley's Ranch 
on the Arroyo Hondo 1 twelve miles from Fernandez, or 
Taos. Arroyo Hondo runs along the base of a ridge of a 
mountain of moderate elevation, which divides the valley 
of Taos from that of the Rio Colorado, or Red River, 
both flowing into the Del Norte. The trail from one 
place to the other passes over the mountain, which is cov- 
ered with pine, cedar, and a species of dwarf oak ; and 
numerous little streams run through the many caiions. 

On the bank of one of the creeks was a mill and dis- 
tillery belonging to an American named Turley, who did 
a thriving business. He possessed herds of goats, and 
hogs innumerable ; his barns were filled with grain, his 
mill with flour, and his cellars with whiskey. He had a 
Mexican wife and several children, and he bore the repu- 
tation of being one of the most generous and kind-hearted 
of men. In times of scarcity, no one ever sought his aid 
to be turned away empty-handed ; his granaries were 
always open to the hungry, and his purse to the poor. 

When on their road to Turley's, the Pueblos murdered 
two men, named Harwood and Markhead. Markhead 
was one of the most successful trappers and daring men 
among the old mountaineers. They were on their way to 
Taos with their pack-animals laden with furs, when the 
savages, meeting them, after stripping them of their goods, 
and securing their arms by treachery, made them mount 
their mules under pretence of conducting them to Taos, 
where they were to be given up to the leaders of the 
insurrection. They had hardly proceeded a mile when a 
Mexican rode up behind Harwood and discharged his gun 
into his back ; he called out to Markhead that he was 
murdered, and fell to the ground dead. 

Markhead, seeing that his own fate was sealed, made 
1 Deep Gorge. 



THE VALLEY OF TAOS 119 

no struggle, and was likewise shot in the back with 
several bullets. Both men were then stripped naked, 
scalped, and horribly mutilated ; their bodies thrown into 
the brush to be devoured by the wolves. 

These trappers were remarkable men ; Markhead, par- 
ticularly, was celebrated in the mountains for his courage, 
reckless daring, and many almost miraculous escapes when 
. in the very hands of the Indians. When some years 
previously he had accompanied Sir William Drummond 
Stewart on one of his expeditions across the Rockies, it 
happened that a half-breed Indian employed by Sir Wil- 
liam absconded one night with some animals, which cir- 
cumstance annoyed the nobleman so much, as it disturbed 
all his plans, that he hastily offered, never dreaming that 
he would be taken up, to give five hundred dollars for the 
scalp of the thief. The very next evening Markhead rode 
into camp with the hair of the luckless horse-thief 
dangling at the muzzle of his rifle. 

The wild crowd of rebels rode on to ■ Turley's mill. 
Turley had been warned of the impending uprising, but 
had treated the report with indifference, until one morn- 
ing a man in his employ, who had been despatched to 
Santa Fe with several mule-loads of whiskey a few days 
before, made his appearance at the gate on horseback, and 
hastily informing the inmates of the mill that the New 
Mexicans had risen and massacred Governor Bent and 
other Americans, galloped off. Even then Turley felt 
assured that he would not be molested ; but at the solici- 
tation of his men, he agreed to close the gate of the yard 
around which were the buildings of the mill and dis- 
tillery, and make preparations for defence. 

A few hours afterward a large crowd of Mexicans and 
Pueblo Indians made their appearance, all armed with 
guns and bows and arrows, and, advancing with a white 
flag, summoned Turley to surrender his house and the 



/ 



120 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Americans in it, guaranteeing that his own life should 
he saved, hut that every other American in the valley 
must be destroyed ; that the governor and all the Ameri- 
cans at Fernandez had been killed, and that not one was 
to be left alive in all New Mexico. 

To this summons Turley answered that he would never 
surrender his house nor his men, and that if they wanted 
it or them, they must take them. 

The enemy then drew off, and, after a short consulta- 
tion, commenced the attack. The first day they numbered 
about five hundred, but were hourly reinforced by the ar- 
rival of jtarties of Indians from the more distant Pueblos, 
and New Mexicans from Fernandez, La Canada, and 
other places. 

The building lay at the foot of a gradual slope in the 
sierra, which was covered with cedar bushes. In front 
ran the stream of the Arroyo Hondo, about twenty yards 
from one side of the square, and the other side was broken 
ground which rose abruptly and formed the bank of the 
ravine. In the rear and behind the still-house was some 
garden ground enclosed by a small fence, into which a 
small wicket-gate opened from the corral. 

As soon as the attack was determined upon, the assail- 
ants scattered and concealed themselves under cover of 
the rocks and bushes which surrounded the house. From 
these they kept up an incessant fire upon every exposed 
portion of the building where they saw preparations for 
defence. 

The Americans, on their part, were not idle ; not a man 
but was an old mountaineer, and each had his trusty rifle, 
with a good store of ammunition. AVhenever one of the 
besiegers exposed a hand's-breadth of his person, a ball 
from an unerring barrel whistled. The. windows had 
been blockaded, loopholes having been left, and through 
these a lively fire was maintained. Already several of the 



THE VALLEY OF TAOS 121 

enemy had bitten the dust, and parties were seen bearing 
off the wounded up the banks of the Canada. Darkness 
came on, and during the night a continual fire was kept 
up on the mill, whilst its defenders, reserving their ammu- 
nition, kept their posts with stern and silent determi- 
nation. The night was spent in casting balls, cutting 
patches, and completing the defences of the building. In 
the morning the fight was renewed, and it was found that 
the Mexicans had effected a lodgment in a part of the 
stables, which were separated from the other portions of 
the building by an open space of a few feet. The assail- 
ants, during the night, had sought to break down the 
wall, and thus enter the main building, but the strength 
of the adobe and logs of which it was composed resisted 
effectually all their attempts. 

Those in the stable seemed anxious to regain the outside, 
for their position was unavailable as a means of annoy- 
ance to the besieged, and several had darted across the 
narrow space which divided it from the other part of the 
building, which slightly projected, and behind which they 
were out of the line of fire. As soon, however, as the 
attention of the defenders was called to this point, the 
first man who attempted to cross, who happened to be 
a Pueblo chief, was dropped on the instant, and fell dead 
in the centre of the intervening space. It appeared to be 
an object to recover the body, for an Indian immediately 
dashed out to the fallen chief, and attempted to drag him 
within the shelter of the wall. The rifle which covered 
the spot again poured forth its deadly contents, and the 
Indian, springing into the air, fell over the body of his 
chief. Another and another met with a similar fate, and 
at last three rushed to the spot, and, seizing the body by 
the legs and head, had already lifted it from the ground, 
when three puffs of smoke blew from the barricaded win- 
dows, followed by the sharp cracks of as many rifles, and 



122 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

the three daring Indians were added to the j)ile of corpses 
which now covered the body of the dead chief. 

As yet the besieged had- met with no casualties ; but 
after the fall of the seven Indians, the whole body of the 
assailants, with a shout of rage, poured in a rattling volley, 
and two of the defenders fell mortally wounded. One, 
shot through the loins, suffered great agony, and was re- 
moved to the still-house, where lie was laid on a large 
pile of grain, as being the softest bed that could be found. 

In the middle of the day the attack was renewed more 
fiercely than before. The little garrison bravely stood to 
the defence of the mill, never throwing away a shot, but 
tiring coolly, and only when a fair mark was presented to 
their unerring aim. Their ammunition, however, was fast 
failing, and to add to the danger of their situation, the 
enemy set fire to the mill, which blazed fiercely, and 
threatened destruction to the whole building. Twice they 
succeeded in overcoming the flames, and, while they were 
thus occupied, the Mexicans and Indians charged into the 
corral, which was full of hogs and sheep, and vented their 
cowardly rage upon the animals, spearing and shooting all 
that came in their way. No sooner were the flames ex- 
tinguished in one place than they broke out more fiercely 
in another ; and as a successful defence was perfectly 
hopeless, and the numbers of the assailants increased every 
moment, a council of war was held by the survivors of 
the little garrison, when it was determined, as soon as 
night approached, that every one should attempt to escape 
as best he could. 

Just at dusk a man named John Albert and another 
ran to the wicket-gate which opened into a kind of en- 
closed space, in which were a number of armed Mexicans. 
They both rushed out at the same moment, discharging 
their rifles full in the face of the crowd. Albert, in the 
confusion, threw himself under the fence, whence he saw 



THE VALLEY OF TAOS 12-3 

his companion shot down immediately, and heard his cries 
for mercy as the cowards pierced him with knives and 
lances. He lay without motion under the fence, and as, 
soon as it was quite dark he crept over the logs and ran 
np the mountain, travelled by day and night, and, scarcely 
stopping or resting, reached the Greenhorn, almost dead 
with hunger and fatigue. Turley himself succeeded in 
escaping from the mill and in reaching the mountain un- 
seen. Here he met a Mexican mounted on a horse, who 
had been a most intimate friend of his for many years. 
To this man Turley offered his watch for the use of the 
horse, which was ten times more than it was worth, but 
was refused. The inhuman wretch, however, affected 
pity and consideration for the fugitive, and advised him 
to go to a certain place, where he would bring or send 
him assistance ; but on reaching the mill, which was a 
mass of fire, he immediately informed the Mexicans of 
Turley's place of concealment, whither a large party in- 
stantly proceeded and shot him to death. 

Two others escajjed and reached Santa Fe in safety. 
The mill and Turley's house were sacked and gutted, and 
all his hard-earned savings, which were concealed in gold 
about the house, were discovered, and, of course, seized 
upon by the victorious Mexicans. 

The following account is taken from Governor Prince's 
chapter on the fight at Taos, in his excellent and authen- 
tic History of Neiv Mexico : — 

" The startling news of the assassination of the gov- 
ernor was swiftly carried to Santa Fe, and reached Colonel 
Price the next day.' Simultaneous^, letters were discov- 
ered calling on the people of the Rio Abajo to secure 
Albuquerque and march northward to aid the other in- 
surgents ; and news speedily followed that a united Mexi- 
can and Pueblo force of large magnitude was marching 
down the Rio Grande valley toward the capital, flushed 



124 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

with the success of the revolt at Taos. Very few troops 
were in Santa Fe ; in fact, the number remaining in the 
whole territory was very small, and these were scattered 
at Albuquerque, Las Vegas, and other distant points. 
At the first-named town were Major Edmonson and Cap- 
tain Burgwiu ; the former in command of the town, and 
the latter with a company of the First Dragoons. 

" Colonel Price lost no time in taking such measures 
as his limited resources permitted. Edmonson was di- 
rected to come immediately to Santa Fe to take command 
of the capital ; and Burgwin to follow Price as fast as 
possible to the scene of hostilities. The colonel himself 
collected the few troops at Santa Fe, which were all on 
foot, but fortunately included the little battalion which 
under Captain Aubrey had made such extraordinary 
marches on the journey across the plains as to almost 
outwalk the cavalry. With these was a volunteer com- 
pany formed of nearly all of the American inhabitants of 
the cit}-, under the command of Colonel Ceran St. Vrain, 
who happened to be in Santa Fe, together with Judge 
Beaubien, at the time of the rising at Taos. With this 
little force, amounting in all to three hundred and ten 
men, Colonel Price started to march to Taos, or at all 
events to meet the army which was coming toward the 
capital from the north and which grew as it marched by 
constant accessions from the surrounding country. The 
city of Santa Fe was left in charge of a garrison under 
Lieutenant-Colonel Willock. While the force was small 
and the volunteers without experience in regular warfare, 
yet all were nerved to desperation by the belief, since the 
Taos murders, that the only alternative was victory or 
annihilation. 

" The expedition set out on January 23d, and the next 
day the Mexican army, under command of General Mon- 
toya as commander-in-chief, aided by Generals Tafoya 



THE VALLEY OF TAOS 125 

and Chavez, was found occupying the heights command- 
ing the road near La Canada (Santa Cruz), with detach- 
ments in some strong adobe houses near the river banks. 
The advance had been seen shortly before at the rocky 
pass, on the road from Pojuaque ; and near there and 
before reaching the river, the San Juan Pueblo Indians, 
who had joined the revolutionists reluctantly and under 
a kind of compulsion, surrendered and were disarmed by 
removing the locks from their guns. On arriving at the 
Canada, Price ordered his howitzers to the front and 
opened fire ; and after a sharp cannonade, directed an 
assault on the nearest houses by Aubrey's battalion. 
Meanwhile an attempt by a Mexican detachment to cut 
off the American baggage-wagons, which had not yet come 
up, was frustrated by the activity of St. Vrain's volun- 
teers. A charge all along the line was then ordered and 
handsomely executed ; the houses, which, being of adobe, 
had been practically so many ready-made forts, were 
successively carried, and St. Vrain started in advance to 
gain the Mexican -rear. Seeing this manoeuvre, and fear- 
ing its effects, the Mexicans retreated, leading thirty-six 
dead on the field. Among those killed was General 
Tafoya, who bravely remained on the field after the re- 
mainder had abandoned it, and was shot. 

" Colonel Price pressed on up the river as fast as possi- 
ble, passing San Juan, and at Los Luceros, on the 28th, 
his little army was rejoiced at the arrival of reinforce- 
ments, consisting of a mounted company of cavalry, Cap- 
tain Burgwin's company, which had been pushed up by 
forced marches on foot from Albuquerque, and a six- 
pounder brought by Lieutenant Wilson. Thus enlarged, 
the American force consisted of four hundred and eighty 
men, and continued its advance up the valley to La Joya, 
which was as far as the river road at that time extended. 
Meanwhile the Mexicans had established themselves in a 



126 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

narrow pass near Embudo, where the forest was dense, 
and the road impracticable for wagons or cannon, the 
troops occupying the sides of the mountains on both sides 
of the canyon. Burgwin was sent with three companies 
to dislodge them and open a passage — no easy task. 
But St. Vrain's company took the west slope, and another 
the right, while Burgwin himself marched through the 
gorge between. The sharp-shooting of these troops did 
such terrible execution that the pass was soon cleared, 
though not without the display of great heroism, and some 
loss ; and the Americans entered Embudo without further 
opposition. The difficulties of this campaign were greatly 
increased by the severity of the weather, the mountains 
being thickly covered with snow, and the cold so intense 
that a number of men were frost-bitten and disabled. 
The next day Burgwin reached Las Trampas, where Price 
arrived with the remainder of the American army on the 
last day of January, and all together they marched into 
Chamisal. 

"Notwithstanding the cold and snow they pressed on 
over the mountain, and on the 3d of February reached 
the town of Eernandez de Taos, only to rind that the Mexi- 
can and Pueblo force had fortified itself in the celebrated 
Pueblo of Taos, about three miles distant. That force 
had diminished considerably during the retreat from La 
Canada, many of the Mexicans returning to their homes, 
and its greater part now consisting of Pueblo Indians. 
The American troops were worn out with fatigue and 
exposure, and in most urgent need of rest ; but their in- 
trepid commander, desiring to give his opponents no 
more time to strengthen their works, and full of zeal and 
energy, if not of prudence, determined to commence an 
immediate attack. 

" The two great buildings at this Pueblo, certainly the 
most interesting and extraordinary inhabited structures in 



THE VALLEY OF TAOS 127 

America, are well known from descriptions and engrav- 
ings. They are live stories high and irregularly pyrami- 
dal in shape, each story being smaller than the one below, 
in order to allow ingress to the outer rooms of each tier 
from the roofs. Before the advent of artillery these 
buildings were practically impregnable, as, when the ex- 
terior ladders were drawn up, there were no means of 
ingress, the side walls being solid without openings, and 
of immense thickness. Between these gfeat buildings, 
each of which can accommodate a multitude of men, runs 
the clear water of the Taos Creek ; and to the west of the 
northerly building stood the old church, with walls of 
adobe from three to seven and a half feet in thickness. 
Outside of all, and having its northwest corner just be- 
yond the church, ran an adobe wall, built for protection 
against hostile Indians and which now answered for an 
outer earthwork. The church was turned into a forti- 
fication, and was the point where the insurgents concen- 
trated their strength ; and against this Colonel Price 
directed his principal attack. The six-pounder and the 
howitzer were brought into position without delay, under 
the command of Lieutenant Dyer, then a young graduate 
of West Point, and since then chief of ordnance of the 
United States army, and opened a fire on the thick adobe 
walls. But cannon-balls made little impression on the 
massive banks of earth, in which they embedded them- 
selves without doing damage ; and after a fire of two 
hours, the battery was withdrawn, and the troops allowed 
to return to the town of Taos for their much-needed rest. 
Early the next morning, the troops, now refreshed and 
ready for the combat, advanced again to the Pueblo, but 
found those within equally prepared. The story of the 
attack and capture of this place is so interesting, both on 
account of the meeting here of old and new systems of 
warfare — of modern artillery with an aboriginal strong- 



128 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

hold — and because the precise localities can be distin- 
guished by the modern tourist from the description, that 
it seems best* to insert the official report as presented by 
Colonel Price. Nothing could show more plainly how supe- 
rior strong earthworks are to many more ambitious struct- 
ures of defence, or more forcibly display the courage and 
heroism of those who took part in the battle, or the signal 
bravery of the accomplished Captain Burgwin which led 
to his untimely death. Colonel Price writes : — 

" ' Posting the dragoons under Captain Burgwin about 
two hundred and sixty yards from the western flank of 
the church, I ordered the mounted men under Captains 
St. Vrain and Slack to a position on the opposite side of 
the town, whence they could discover and intercept any 
fugitives who might attempt to escape toward the moun- 
tains, or in the direction of San Fernando. The residue 
of the troops took ground about three hundred j^ards from 
the north wall. Here, too, Lieutenant Dyer established 
himself with the six-pounder and two howitzers, while 
Lieutenant Hassendaubel, of Major Clark's battalion, 
light artillery, remained with Captain Burgwin, in com- 
mand of two howitzers. By this arrangement a cross-fire 
was obtained, sweeping the front and eastern flank of the 
church. All these arrangements being made, the batteries 
opened upon the town at nine o'clock a.m. At eleven 
o'clock, finding it impossible to. breach the walls of the 
church with the six-pounder and howitzers, I determined 
to storm the building. At a signal, Captain Burgwin, 
at the head of his own company and that of Captain 
McMillin, charged the western flank of the church, while 
Captain Aubrey, infantry battalion, and Captain Barber 
and Lieutenant Boon, Second Missouri Mounted Volun- 
teers, charged the northern wall. As soon as the troops 
above mentioned had established themselves under the 
western wall of the church, axes were used in the attempt 



THE VALLEY OF TAOS 129 

to breach it, and a temporary ladder having been made, 
the roof was fired. About this time, Captain Burgwin, 
at the head of a small party, left the cover afforded by 
the flank of the church, and penetrating into the corral in 
front of that building, endeavoured to force' the door. In 
this exposed situation, Captain Burgwin received a severe 
wound, which deprived me of his valuable services, and of 
which he died on the 7th instant. Lieutenants Mcllvaine, 
First United States Dragoons, and Royall and Lackland, 
Second Regiment Volunteers, accompanied Captain Burg- 
win into the corral, but the attempt on the church door 
proved fruitless, and they were compelled to retire behind 
the wall. In the meantime, small holes had been cut in 
the western wall, and shells were thrown in by hand, 
doing good execution. The six-pounder was now brought 
around by Lieutenant Wilson, who, at the distance of 
two hundred yards, poured a heavy fire of grape into the 
town. The enemy, during all of this time, kept up a 
destructive fire upon our troops. About half-past three 
o'clock, the six-pounder was run up within sixty yards of 
the church, and after ten rounds, one of the holes which 
had been cut with the axes was widened into ^practicable 
breach. The storming party, among whom were Lieuten- 
ant Dyer, of the ordnance, and Lieutenant Wilson and 
Taylor, First Dragoons, entered and took possession of 
the church without opposition. The interior was filled 
with dense smoke, but for which circumstance our storm- 
ing party would have suffered great loss. A few of the 
enemy were seen in the gallery, where an open door ad- 
mitted the air, but they retired without firing a gun. 
The troops left to support the battery on the north side 
were now ordered to charge on that side. 

" ' The enemy then abandoned the western part of the 
town. Many took refuge in the large houses on the east, 
while others endeavoured to escape toward the mountains. 



130 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

These latter were pursued by the mounted men under 
Captains Slack and St. Vrain, who killed fifty-one of 
them, only two or three men escaping. It was now 
night, and our troops were quietly quartered in the house 
which the enemy had abandoned. On the next morning 
the enemy sued for peace, and thinking the severe loss 
they had sustained would prove a salutary lesson, I granted 
their supplication, on the condition that they should deliver 
xip to me Tomas, one of their principal men, who had in- 
stigated and been actively engaged in the murder of Gov- 
ernor Bent and others. The number of the enemy at the 
battle of Pueblo de Taos was between six and seven 
hundred, and of these one hundred and fifty were killed, 
wounded not known. Our own loss was seven killed and 
forty-five wounded; many of the wounded have since 
died.' 

" The capture of the Taos Pueblo practically ended the 
main attempt to expel the Americans from the Territory. 
Governor Montoya, who was a very influential man in the 
conspiracy and styled himself the ' Santa Ana of the 
North,' was tried by court-martial, convicted, and exe- 
cuted on February 7th, in the presence of the army. 
Fourteen others were tried for participating in the murder 
of Governor Bent and the others who were killed on the 
19th of January, and were convicted and executed. Thus, 
fifteen in all were hung, being an equal number to those 
murdered at Taos, the Arroyo Hondo, and Rio Colorado. 
Of these, eight were Mexicans and seven were Pueblo 
Indians. Several more were sentenced to be hung for 
treason, but the President very properly pardoned them, 
on the around that treason against the United States was 
not a crime of which a Mexican citizen could be found 
guilty, while his country was actually at war with the 
United States." 

There are several thrilling, as well as laughable, inci- 



THE VALLEY OF TAOS 131 

dents connected with the Taos massacre, and the suc- 
ceeding trial of the insurrectionists ; in regard to which 
I shall quote freely from Wah-to-yah, whose author, Mr. 
Lewis H. Garrard, accompanied Colonel St. Vrain across 
the plains in 1846, and was present at the trial and exe- 
cution of the convicted participants. 

One Fitzgerald, who was a private in Captain Burg- 
win's company of Dragoons, in the fight at the Pueblo de 
Taos, killed three Mexicans with his own hand, and per- 
formed heroic work with the bombs that were thrown into 
that strong Indian fortress. He was a man of good feel- 
ing, but his brother having been killed, or rather murdered 
by Salazar, while a prisoner in the Texan expedition against 
Santa Fe, he swore vengeance, and entered the service with 
the hope of accomplishing it. The day following the fight 
at the Pueblo, he walked up to the alcalde, and deliber- 
ately shot him down. For this act lie was confined to 
await a trial for murder. 

One raw night, complaining of cold to his guard, 
wood was brought, which he piled up in the middle of 
the room. Then mounting that, and succeeding in break- 
ing through the roof, he noiselessly crept to the eaves, 
below which a sentinel, wrapped in a heavy cloak, paced 
to and fro, to prevent his escape. He watched until the 
guard's back was turned, then swung himself from the 
wall, and with as much ease as possible, walked to a 
mess-fire, where his friends in waiting supplied him with 
a pistol and clothing. When day broke, the town of 
Fernandez lay far beneath him in the valley, and two 
days after he was safe in our camp. 

Many a hand-to-hand encounter ensued during the 
fight at Taos, one of which was by Colonel Ceran St. Vrain, 
whom I knew intimately ; a grand old gentleman, now 
sleeping peacefully in the quaint little graveyard at Mora, 
New Mexico, where he resided for many years. The gal- 



132 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

lant colonel, while riding along, noticed an Indian with 
whom he was well acquainted lying stretched out on the 
ground as if dead. Confident that this particular red 
devil had been especially prominent in the hellish acts 
of the massacre, the colonel dismounted from his pony 
to satisfy himself whether the savage was really dead 
or only shamming. He was far from being a corpse, for 
the colonel had scarcely reached the spot, when the Indian 
jumped to his feet and attempted to run a long, steel- 
pointed lance through the officer's shoulder. Colonel 
St. Vrain was a large, powerfully built man ; so was the 
Indian, I have been told. As each of the struggling 
combatants endeavoured to get the better of the other, 
with the savage having a little the advantage, perhaps, 
it appears that " Uncle Dick " Wooton, who was in the 
chase after the rebels, happened to arrive on the scene, 
and hitting the Indian a terrific blow on the head with 
his axe, settled the question as to his being a corpse. 

Court for the trial of the insurrectionists assembled 
at nine o'clock. On entering the room, Judges Beaubien 
and Houghton were occupying their official positions. 
After many dry preliminaries, six prisoners were brought 
in — ill-favoured, half-scared, sullen fellows ; and the jury 
of Mexicans and Americans having been empanelled, 
the trial commenced. It certainly did appear to be a 
great assumption on the part of the Americans to conquer 
a country, and then arraign the revolting inhabitants for 
treason. American judges sat on the bench. New Mexi- 
cans and Americans filled the jury-box, and American 
soldiery guarded the halls. It was a strange mixture of 
violence and justice — a middle ground between the mar- 
tial and common law. 

After an absence of a few minutes, the jury returned 
with a verdict of ; ' guilty in the first degree " — five for 
murder, one for treason. Treason, indeed ! What did 



THE VALLEY OF TAOS 133 

the poor devil know about his new allegiance ? But so it 
was ; and as the jail was overstocked with others awaiting 
trial, it was deemed expedient to hasten the execution, 
and the culprits were sentenced to be hung on the follow- 
ing Friday — hangman's day. 

Court was daily in session ; five more Indians and 
four Mexicans were sentenced to be hung on the 30th 
of April. In the court room, on the occasion of the trial 
of these nine prisoners, were Seiiora Bent the late gov- 
ernor's wife, and Seiiora Boggs, giving their evidence in 
regard to the massacre, of which they were eye-witnesses. 
Mrs. Bent was quite handsome ; a few years previously 
she must have been a beautiful woman. The wife of the 
renowned Kit Carson also was in attendance. Her style 
of beauty was of the haughty, heart-breaking kind — 
such as would lead a man, with a glance of the eye, to 
risk his life for one smile. 

The court room was a small, oblong apartment, dimly 
lighted by two narrow windows ; a thin railing keeping 
the bystanders from contact with the functionaries. The 
prisoners faced the judges, and the three witnesses — 
Senoras Bent, Boggs, and Carson — were close to them 
on a bench by the wall. When Mrs. Bent gave her testi- 
mony, the eyes of the culprits were fixed sternly upon her; 
when she pointed out the Indian who had killed the 
governor, not a muscle of the chief's face twitched or 
betrayed agitation, though he was aware her evidence 
settled his death warrant ; he sat with lips gently closed, 
eyes earnestly fixed on her, without a show of malice 
or hatred — a spectacle of Indian fortitude, and of the 
severe mastery to which the emotions can be subjected. 

Among the jurors was a trapper named Baptiste Brown, 
a Frenchman, as were the majority of the trappers in the 
early days of the border. He was an exceptionally kind- 
hearted man when he first came to the mountains, and seri- 



134 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

ously inclined to regard the Indians with that mistaken 
sentimentality characterizing the average New England 
philanthropist, who has never seen the untutored savage 
on his native heath. His ideas, however, underwent a 
marked change as the years rolled on and he became 
more familiar with the attributes of the noble red man. 
He was with Kit Carson in the Blackfeet country many 
years before the Taos massacre, when his convictions were 
thus modified, and it was from the famous frontiersman 
himself I learned the story of Baptiste's conversion. 

It was late one night in their camp on one of the many 
creeks in the Blackfoot region, where they had been 
established for several weeks, and Baptiste was on duty, 
guarding their meat and furs from the incursions of a too 
inquisitive grizzly that had been prowling around, and 
the impertinent investigations of the wolves. His atten- 
tion was attracted to something high up in a neighbouring 
tree, that seemed restless, changing its position constantly 
like an animal of prey. The Frenchman drew a bead 
upon it, and there came tumbling down at bis feet a dead 
savage, with his war-paint and other Indian parapher- 
nalia adorning his body. Baptiste was terribly hurt 
over the circumstance of having killed an Indian, and 
it grieved him for a long time. One day, a month after 
the incident, he was riding alone far away from our party, 
and out of sound of their rifles as Avell, when a band of 
Blackfeet discovered him and started for his scalp. He 
had no possible chance for escape except by the endur- 
ance of his horse ; so a race for life began. He expe- 
rienced no trouble in keeping out of the way of their 
arrows — the Indians had no guns then — and hoped to 
make camp before they could possibly wear out his horse. 
Just as he was congratulating himself on his luck, right 
in front of him there suddenly appeared a great gorge, 
and not daring to stop or to turn to the right or left, 



THE VALLEY OF TAOS 135 

the onl)' thing to do was to make his animal jump it. 
It was his only chance ; it was death if he missed it, 
and death by the most horrible torture if the Indians 
captured him. So he drove his heels into his horse's 
sides, and essayed the awful leap. His willing animal 
made a desperate effort to carry out the desire of his 
daring rider, but the dizzy chasm was too wide, and 
the pursuing savages saw both horse and the coveted 
white man dash to the bottom of the frightful canon 
together. Believing that their hated enemy had eluded 
them forever, they rode back on their trail, disgusted and 
chagrined, without even taking the trouble of looking 
over the precipice to learn the fate of Baptiste. 

The horse was instantly killed, and the Frenchman 
had both of his legs badly broken. Far from camp, with 
the Indians in close proximity, he did not dare dis- 
charge his rifle — the usual signal when a trapper is lost 
or in danger — or to make any demonstration, so he was 
compelled to lie there and suffer, hoping that his com- 
rades, missing him, would start out to search for him. 
They did so, but more than twenty-four hours had elapsed 
before they found him, as the bottom of the canon was 
the last place they thought of. 

Doctors, in the wild region where their camp was 
located, were as impossible as angels ; so his companions 
set his broken bones as well as they could, while Baptiste 
suffered excruciating torture. When they had completed 
their crude surgery, they improvised a litter of poles, and 
rigged it on a couple of pack-mules, and thus carried him 
around with them from camp to camp until he recovered 
— a period extending over three months. 

This affair completely cured Baptiste of his original 
sentimentality in relation to the Indian, and he became 
one of their worst haters. 

When acting as a juror in the trials of rebel Mexicans 



136 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

and Indians, he was asleep half the time, and never heard 
much of the evidence, and that portion which he did was 
so much Greek to him. In the last nine cases, in which 
the Indian who had murdered Governor Bent was tried, 
Baptiste, as soon as the jury room was closed, sang out : 
" Hang 'em, hang 'em, sacre enfans des garces, dey dam 
gran rascale ! '" "But wait," suggested one of the cooler 
members ; " let's look at the evidence and find out whether 
they are really guilty." Upon this wise caution, Baptiste 
got greatly excited, paced the floor, and cried out : 
" Hang de Indian anyhow ; he may not be guilty now — 
mais he vare soon will be. Hang 'em all, parceque dey 
kill Monsieur Charles ; dey take son topknot, vot you call 
im — scalp. Hang 'em, hang 'em — sa-a-cre-e ! " 

On Friday the 9th, the day for the execution, the 
sky was unspotted, save by hastily fleeting clouds ; and 
as the rising sun loomed over the Taos Mountain, the 
bright rays, shining on the yellow and white mud-houses, 
reflected cheerful hues, while the shades of the toppling 
peaks, receding from the plain beneath, drew within them- 
selves. The humble valley wore an air of calm repose. 
The Plaza was deserted ; woe-begone burros drawled 
forth sacrilegious brays, as the warm sunbeams , roused 
them from hard, grassless ground, to scent their break- 
fast among straw and hones. 

Poor Mexicans hurried to and fro, casting suspicious 
glances around ; los Yankees at El casa Americano drank 
their juleps, and puffed their cigarettes in silence. 

The sheriff, Metcalf, formerly a mountaineer, was in 
want of the wherewithal to hang the condemned criminals, 
so he borrowed some rawhide lariats and picket-ropes of 
a teamster. 

"Hello, Met," said one of the party present, "these 
reatas are mighty stiff — won't fit ; eh, old feller?" 

"I've got something to make 'em fit — good 'intment 



THE VALLEY OF TAOS 137 

— don't emit very sweet perfume ; but good enough for 
Greasers," said the sheriff, producing a dollar's worth of 
Mexican soft soap. " This'll make 'em slip easy — a 
long ways too easy for them, I 'spect." 

The prison apartment was a long chilly room, badly 
ventilated by one small window and the open door, 
through which the sun lit up the earth floor, and through 
which the poor prisoners wistfully gazed. Two muscu- 
lar Mexicans basked in its genial warmth, a tattered 
serape interposing between them and the ground. The 
ends, once fringed but now clear of pristine ornament, 
were partly drawn over their breasts, disclosing in the 
openings of their fancifully colored shirts — now glazed 
with filth and faded with perspiration — the bare skin, 
covered with straight black hair. With hands under 
their heads, in the mass of stringy locks rusty-brown 
from neglect, they returned the looks of their executioners 
with an unmeaning stare, and unheedingly received the 
salutation of — "Oomo le va!" 

Along the sides of the room, leaning against the walls, 
were crowded the poor wretches, miserable in dress, mis- 
erable in features, miserable in feelings — a more disgust- 
ing collection of ragged, greasy, unwashed prisoners 
were, probably, never before congregated within so small 
a space as the jail of Taos. 

About nine o'clock, active preparations were made for 
the execution, and the soldiery mustered. Reverend 
padres in long black gowns, with meek countenances, 
passed the sentinels, intent on spiritual consolation, or 
the administration of the Blessed Sacrament. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Willock, commanding the military, 
ordered every American under arms. The prison was at 
the edge of the town ; no houses intervened between it 
and the fields to the north. One hundred and fifty yards 
distant, a gallows was erected 



138 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

The word was passed, at last, that the criminals were 
coming. Eighteen soldiers received them at the gate, 
with their muskets at "port arms" ; the six abreast, with 
the sheriff on the right — nine soldiers on each side. 

The poor prisoners marched slowly, with downcast 
eyes, arms tied behind, and bare heads, with the excep- 
tion of white cotton caps stuck on the back, to be pulled 
over the face as the last ceremony. 

The roofs of the houses in the vicinity were covered 
with women and children, to witness the first execution 
by hanging in the valley of Taos, save that of Montojo, 
the insurgent leader. No men were near ; a few stood 
afar off, moodily looking on. 

On the flat jail roof was placed a mountain howitzer, 
loaded and ranging the gallows. Near was the comple- 
ment of men to serve it, one holding in his hand a lighted 
match. The two hundred and thirty soldiers, less the 
eighteen forming the guard, were paraded in front of the 
jail, and in sight of the gibbet, so as to secure the pris- 
oners awaiting trial. Lieutenant-Colonel Willock, on a 
handsome charger, commanded a view of the whole. 

When within fifteen paces of the gallows, the side-guard, 
filing off to the right, formed, at regular distances from 
each other, three sides of a hollow square ; the moun- 
taineers composed the fourth and front side, in full view 
of the trembling prisoners, who marched up to the tree 
under which was a government wagon, with two mules 
attached. The driver and sheriff assisted them in, rang- 
ing them on a board, placed across the hinder end, which 
maintained its balance, as they were six, — an even num- 
ber, — two on each extremity, and two in the middle. 
The gallows was so narrow that they touched. The 
ropes, by reason of their size and stiffness, despite the 
soaping given them, were adjusted with difficulty ; but 
through the indefatigable efforts of the sheriff and a 



THE VALLEY OF TAOS 139 

lieutenant who had accompanied him, all preliminaries 
were arranged, although the blue uniform looked sadly 
out of place on a hangman. 

With rifles at a " shoulder," the military awaited the 
consummation of the tragedy. There was no crowd 
around to disturb ; a death-like stillness prevailed. The 
spectators on the roofs seemed scarcely to move — their 
eyes were directed to the doomed wretches, with harsh 
halters now encircling their necks. 

The sheriff and his assistant sat down ; after a few 
moments of intense expectation, the heart-wrung victims 
said a few words to their people. Only one of them 
admitted he had committed murder and deserved death. 
In their brief but earnest appeals, the words " mi padre, 
mi madre " — " my father, my mother " — were prominent. 
The one sentenced for treason showed a spirit of patriot- 
ism worthy of the cause for which he died, — the liberty 
of his country ; and instead of the cringing recantation 
of the others, his speech was a firm asseveration of his 
own innocence, the unjustness of his trial, and the arbi- 
trary conduct of his murderers. As the cap was pulled 
over his face, the last words he uttered between his teeth 
with a scowl were "Oarajo, los Americanos ! '" 

At a word from the sheriff, the mules were started, 
and the wagon drawn from under the tree. No fall 
was given, and their feet remained on the board till the 
ropes drew tight. The bodies swayed back and forth, 
and while thus swinging, the hands of two came to- 
gether with a firm grasp till the muscles loosened in 
death. 

After forty minutes' suspension, Colonel Willock ordered 
his command to quarters, and the howitzer to be taken 
from its place on the roof of the jail. The soldiers were 
called away ; the women and population in general col- 
lecting around the rear guard which the sheriff had 



140 



THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 



retained for protection while delivering the dead to their 
weeping relatives. 

While cutting a rope from one man's neck, — for it was 
in a hard knot, — the owner, a government teamster stand- 
ing hy waiting, shouted angrily, at the same time stepping 
forward : 

" Hello there ! don't cut that rope ; I won't have any- 
thing to tie my mules with." 

" Oh ! you darned fool," interposed a mountaineer, "the 
dead men's ghosts will be after you if you use them lariats 
— wagh ! They'll make meat of you sartain." 

" Well, I don't care if they do. I'm in government 
service ; and if them picket halters was gone, slap down 
goes a dollar apiece. Money's scarce in these diggin's, 
and I'm going to save all I kin to take home to the old 
woman and boys." 




Church at Tico 



CHAPTER IX 

INDEPENDENCE OPENING OF NAVIGATION ON THE MISSISSIPPI 

EFFECT OF WATER TRANSPORTATION UPON THE TRADE 

ESTABLISHMENT OF TRADING-FORTS MARKET FOR CATTLE 

AND MULES WAGES PAID TEAMSTERS ON THE TRAIL AN 

ENTERPRISING COLORED MAN INCREASE OF THE TRADE 

AT THE CLOSE OF THE MEXICAN WAR HEAVY EMIGRA- 
TION TO CALIFORNIA FIRST OVERLAND MAIL HOW THE 

GUARDS WERE ARMED PASSENGER COACHES TO SANTA FE 

STAGE-COACHING DAYS 



N the summit of one of 
the highest plateaus bor- 
dering the Missouri Riv- 
er, surrounded by a rich 
expanse of foliage, lies 
Independence, the beau- 
tiful residence suburb of 
Kansas City, only ten miles 
distant. 

Tradition tells that 
early in this century there 
were a few pioneers camp- 
ing at Ions' distances from 
each other in the seemingly in- 
terminable woods ; in summer engaged in hunting the 
deer, elk, and bear, and in winter in trapping. It is a 
well-known fact that the Big Blue was once a favourite 
resort of the beaver, and that even later their presence in 

141 i 




142 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

great numbers attracted many a veteran trapper to its 
waters. 

Before that period the quaint old cities of far-off Mex- 
ico were forbidden to foreign traders, excepting to the 
favoured few who were successful in obtaining permits 
from the Spanish government. In 1821, however, the 
rebellion of Iturbide crushed the power of the mother 
country, and established the freedom of Mexico. The 
embargo upon foreign trade was at once removed, and the 
Santa Fe Trail, for untold ages only a simple trace across 
the continent, became the busy highway of a relatively 
great commerce. 

In 1817 the navigation of the Mississippi River was 
begun. On the 2d of August of that year the steamer 
General Pike arrived at St. Louis. The first boat to 
ascend the Missouri River was the Independence; she 
passed Franklin on the 28th of May, 1819, where a dinner 
was given to her officers. In the same and the following 
month of that year, the steamers Western Engineer Ex- 
pedition, and R. M. Johnson came along, carrying Major 
Long's scientific exploring party, bound for the Yellow- 
stone. 

The Santa Fe trade having been inaugurated shortly 
after these important events, those engaged in it soon real- 
ized the benefits of river navigation, — for it enabled them 
to shorten the distance which their wagons had to travel 
in going across the plains, — and they began to look out for 
a suitable place as a shipping and outfitting point higher 
up the river than Franklin, which had been the initial 
starting town. 

By 1827 trading-posts had been established at Blue 
Mills, Fort Osage, and Independence. The first-men- 
tioned place, which is situated about six miles below In- 
dependence, soon became the favourite landing, and the 
exchange from wagons to boats settled and defied all 



FIRST OVERLAND MAIL 143 

efforts to remove the headquarters of the trade from there 
for several years. Independence, however, being the 
county seat and the larger place, succeeded in its claims 
to be the more suitable locality, and as early as 1832 it 
was recognized as the American headquarters and the 
great outfitting jioint for the Santa Fe commerce, which 
it continued to be until 1846, when the traffic was tempo- 
rarily suspended by the breaking out of the Mexican War. 

Independence was not only the principal outfitting 
point for the Santa Fe traders, but also that of the great 
fur companies. That powerful association used to send 
out larger pack-trains than any other parties engaged in 
the traffic to the Rocky Mountains ; they also employed 
wagons drawn by mules, and loaded with goods for .the 
Indians with whom their agents bartered, which also on 
their return trip transported the skins and pelts of ani- 
mals procured from the savages. The articles intended 
for the Indian trade were always purchased in St. Louis, 
and usually shipped to Independence, consigned to the 
firm of Aull and Companjr, who outfitted the traders 
with mules and provisions, and in fact anything else re- 
quired by them. 

Several individual traders would frequently form joint 
caravans, and travel in company for mutual protection 
from the Indians. After having reached a fifty-mile 
limit from the State line, each trader had control of his 
own men ; each took care of a certain number of the pack- 
animals, loaded and unloaded thein in camp, and had gen- 
eral supervision of them. 

Frequently there would be three hundred mules in a 
single caravan, carrying three hundred pounds apiece, and 
very large animals more. Thousands of wagons were 
also sent out from Independence annually, each drawn 
by twelve mules or six yoke of oxen, and loaded with 
general merchandise. 



144 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

There were no packing houses in those days nearer than 
St. Louis, and the bacon and beef used in the Santa Fe 
trade were furnished by the farmers of the surrounding 
country, who killed their meat, cured it, and transported 
it to the town where they sold it. Their wheat was also 
ground at the local mills, and they brought the flour to 
market, together with corn, dried fruit, beans, peas, and 
kindred provisions used on the long route across the 
plains. 

Independence very soon became the best market west 
of St. Louis for cattle, mules, and wagons ; the trade of 
which the place Avas the acknowledged headquarters fur- 
nishing employment to several thousand men, including 
the teamsters and packers on the Trail. The wages paid 
varied from twenty-five to fifty dollars a month and ra- 
tions. The price charged for hauling freight to Santa Fe 
was ten dollars a hundred pounds, each wagon earning 
from five to six hundred dollars every trip, which was 
made in eighty or ninety days ; some fast caravans mak- 
ing quicker time. 

The merchants and general traders of Independence in 
those days reaped a grand harvest. Everything to eat 
was in constant demand ; mules and oxen were sold in 
great numbers every month at excellent prices and always 
for cash : while any good stockman could readily make 
from ten to fifty dollars a day. 

One of the largest manufacturers and most enterpris- 
ing young men in Independence at that time was Hiram 
Youno 1 , a coloured man. Besides making hundreds of 
wagons, he made all the ox-yokes used in the entire 
traffic ; fifty thousand annually during the '50's and until 
the breaking out of the Avar. The forward yokes were 
sold at an average of one dollar and a quarter, the Avheel 
yokes a dollar higher. 

The freight transported by the wagons was always very 



FIRST OVERLAND MAIL 145 

securely loaded ; each package had its contents plainly 
marked on the outside. The wagons were heavily cov- 
ered and tightly closed. Every man belonging to the 
caravan was thoroughly armed, and ever on the alert to 
repulse an attack by the Indians. 

Sometimes at the crossing of the Arkansas the quick- 
sands were so bad that it was necessary to get the caravan 
over in a hurry ; then forty or fifty yoke of oxen were 
hitched to one wagon and it was quickly yanked through 
the treacherous ford. This was not alwa} r s the case, how- 
ever ; it depended upon the stage of water and recent 
floods. 

After the close of the war with Mexico, the freight 
business across the plains increased to a wonderful degree. 
The possession of the country by the United States gave 
a fresh impetus to the New Mexico trade, and the traffic 
then began to be divided between Westport and Kansas 
City. Independence lost control of the overland commerce 
and Kansas City commenced its rapid growth. Then 
came the discovery of gold in California, and this gave 
an increased business westward ; for thousands of men 
and their families crossed the plains and the Rocky Moun- 
tains, seeking their fortunes in the new El Dorado. The 
Old Trail was the highway of an enormous pilgrimage, 
and both Independence and Kansas City became the ini- 
tial point of a wonderful emigration. 

In Independence may still be seen a few of the old 
landmarks when it was the headquarters of the Santa 
Fe trade. 

An overland mail was started from the busy town as 
early as 1849. In an old copy of the Missouri Common- 
wealth, published there under the date of July, 1850, 
which I found on file in the Kansas State Historical 
Society, there is the following account of the first mail 
stage westward : — 



146 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

"We briefly alluded, some days since, to the Santa Fe 
line of mail stages, which left this city on its first monthly 
journey on the 1st instant. The stages are got up in 
elegant style, and are each arranged to convey eight pas- 
sengers. The bodies are beautifully painted, and made 
water-tight, with a view of using them as boats in ferry- 
ing streams. The team consists of six mules to each 
coach. The mail is guarded by eight men, armed as fol- 
lows : Each man has at his side, fastened in the stage, one 
of Colt's revolving rifles ; in a holster below, one of Colt's 
long revolvers, and in his belt a small Colt's revolver, 
besides a hunting-knife; so that these eight men are 
ready, in case of attack, to discharge one hundred and 
thirty-six shots without having to reload. This is equal 
to a small army, armed as in the ancient times, and from 
the looks of this escort, ready as they are, either for offen- 
sive or defensive warfare with the savages, we have no 
fears for the safety of the mails. 

" The accommodating contractors have established a 
sort of base of refitting at Council Grove, a distance of 
one hundred and fifty miles from this city, and have sent 
out a blacksmith, and a number of men to cut and cure 
hay, with a quantity of animals, grain, and provisions ; 
and we understand they intend to make a sort of travel- 
ling station there, and to commence a farm. They also, 
we believe, intend to make a similar settlement at Wal- 
nut Creek next season. Two of their stages will start 
from here the first of every month." 

The old stage-coach days were times of Western 
romance and adventure, and the stories told of that 
era of the border have a singular fascination in this 
age of annihilation of distance. 

Very few, if any, of the famous men who handled the 
" ribbons " in those dangerous days of the slow journey 
across the great plains are among the living ; like the 



FIRST OVERLAND MAIL 147 

clumsy and forgotten coaches they drove, they have them- 
selves been mouldering into dust these many years. 

In many places on the line of the Trail, where the 
hard hills have not been subjected to the plough, the 
deep ruts cut by the lumbering Concord coaches may 
yet be distinctly traced. Particularly are they visible 
from the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe track, as the 
cars thunder rapidly toward the city of Great Bend, in 
Kansas, three miles east of that town. Let the tourist as 
he crosses Walnut Creek look out of his window toward 
the east at an angle of about thirty-five degrees, and on 
the flint hills which slope gradually toward the railroad, 
he will observe, very distinctly, the Old Trail, where it 
once drew down from the divide to make the ford at the 
little stream. 

The monthly stages started from each end of the route 
at the same time ; later the service was increased to once 
a week ; after a while to three times, until in the early 
'60's daily stages were run from both ends of the route, 
and this was continued until the advent of the railroad. 

Each coach carried eleven passengers, nine closely 
stowed inside — three on a seat — and two on the out- 
side on the boot with the driver. The fare to Santa Fe 
was two hundred and fifty dollars, the allowance of bag- 
gage being limited to forty pounds ; all in excess of that 
cost half a dollar a pound. In this now seemingly large 
sum was included the board of the travellers, but they 
Avere not catered to in any extravagant manner ; hard- 
tack, bacon, and coffee usually exhausted the menu, save 
that at times there was an abundance of antelope and 
buffalo. 

There was always something exciting in those journeys 
from the Missouri to the mountains in the lumbering 
Concord coach. There was the constant fear of meeting 
the wily red man, who persistently hankered after the 



148 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

white man's hair. Then there was the playfulness of 
the sometimes drunken driver, who loved to upset his 
tenderfoot travellers in some arroya, long after the moon 
had sunk below the horizon. 

It required about two weeks to make the trip from 
the Missouri River to Santa Fe, unless high water or a 
fight with the Indians made it several days longer. The 
animals were changed every twenty miles at first, but 
later, every ten, when faster time was made. What 
sleep was taken could only be had while sitting bolt up- 
right, because there Avas no laying over; the stage con- 
tinued on night and day until Santa Fe was reached. 

After a few years, the company built stations at inter- 
vals varying from ten miles to fifty or more ; and there the 
animals and drivers were changed, and meals furnished 
to travellers, which were always substantial, but never 
elegant in variety or cleanliness. 

Who can ever forget those meals at the "stations," of 
which you were obliged to partake or go hungry : biscuit 
hard enough to serve as " round-shot," and a vile decoc- 
tion called, through courtesy, coffee, — but God help the 
man who disputed it ! 

Some stations, however, Avere notable exceptions, par- 
ticularly in the mountains of New Mexico, Avhere, aside 
from the bread, — usually only tortillas, made of the blue- 
flint corn of the country, — and coffee composed of the 
saints may know what, the meals Avere excellent. The 
most delicious brook trout, alternating with venison of 
the black-tailed deer, elk, bear, and all the other varieties 
of game abounding in the region cost you one dollar, 
but the station-keeper a mere trifle : no Avonder the old 
residents and ranchmen on the line of the Old Trail 
lament the good times of the overland stage ! 

Thirteen years ago I revisited the once Avell-known 
Kosloskie's Ranch, a picturesque cabin at the foot of the 



FIRST OVERLAND MAIL 149 

Glorieta Mountains, about half a mile from the ruins on 
the Rio Pecos. The old Pole was absent, but his wife was 
there ; and, although I had not seen her for fifteen years, 
she remembered me well, and at once began to deplore 
the changed condition of the country since the advent of 
the railroad, declaring it had ruined their family with many 
others. I could not disagree with her view of the matter, 
as I looked on the debris of a former relative greatness all 
around me. I recalled the fact that once Kosloskie's 
Ranch was the favourite eating station on the Trail ; 
where you were ever sure of a substantial meal, — the 
main feature of which was the delicious brook trout, 
which were caught out of the stream which ran near the 
door while you were washing the dust out of your eyes 
and ears. 

The trout have vacated the Pecos ; the ranch is a ruin, 
and stands in grim contrast with the old temple and 
church on the hill ; and both are monuments of civiliza- 
tions that will never come again. 

Weeds and sunflowers mark the once broad trail to 
the quaint Aztec city, and silence reigns in the beautiful 
valley, save when broken by the passage of " The Flyer " 
of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railway, as it 
struggles up the heavy grade of the Glorieta Mountains 
a mile or more distant. 

Besides the driver, there was another employee, — the 
conductor or messenger, as he was called. He had charge 
of the mail and express matter, collected the fares, and 
attended generally to the requirements of those com- 
mitted to his care during the tedious journey ; for he 
was not changed like the driver, but stayed with the 
coach from its starting to its destination. Sometimes 
fourteen individuals were accommodated in case of emer- 
gency ; but it was terribly crowded and uncomfortable 
riding, with no chance to stretch your limbs, save for a 



150 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

few moments at stations where } r ou ate and changed 
animals. 

In starting from Independence, powerful horses were 
attached to the coach, — generally four in number ; but at 
the first station they were exchanged for mules, and these 
animals hauled it the remainder of the way. Drivers 
were changed about eight times in making the trip to 
Santa Fe ; and some of them were comical fellows, but 
full of nerve and endurance, for it required a man of 
nerve to handle eight frisky mules through the rugged 
passes of the mountains, when the snow was drifted in 
immense masses, or when descending the curved, icy de- 
clivities to the base of the range. A cool head was highly 
necessary ; but frequently accidents occurred and some- 
times were serious in their results. 

A snowstorm in the mountains was a terrible thing 
to encounter by the coach ; all that could be done was 
to wait until it had abated, as there was no going on 
in the face of the blinding sheets of intensely cold vapour 
which the wind hurled against the sides of the mountains. 
All inside of the coach had to sit still and shake with 
the freezing branches of the tall trees around them. A 
summer hailstorm was much more to be dreaded, how- 
ever ; for nowhere else on the earth do the hailstones shoot 
from the clouds of greater size or with greater velocity 
than in the Rocky Mountains. Such an event invariably 
frightened the mules and caused them to stampede ; and, 
to escape death from the coach rolling down some fright- 
ful abyss, one had to jump out, only to be beaten to a jelly 
by the masses of ice unless shelter could be found under 
some friendly ledge of rock or the thick limbs of a tree. 

Nothing is more fatiguing than travelling for the first 
day and night in a stage-coach ; after that, however, one 
gets used to it and the remainder of the journey is rela- 
tively comfortable. 



FIRST OVERLAND MAIL 151 

The only way to alleviate the monotony of riding hour 
after hour was to walk ; occasionally this was rendered 
absolutely necessary by some accident, such as breaking 
a wheel or axle, or when an animal gave out before a 
station was reached. In such cases, however, no deduc- 
tion was made from the fare, that having been collected in 
advance, so it cost you just as much whether you rode or 
walked. You could exercise your will in the matter, but 
you must not lag behind the coach ; the savages were 
always watching for such derelicts, and your hair was the 
forfeit ! 

In the worst years, when the Indians were most de- 
cidedly on the war-trail, the government furnished an 
escort of soldiers from the military posts ; they generally 
rode in a six-mule army-wagon, and were commanded by 
a sergeant or corporal ; but in the early days, before the 
ami}' had concentrated at the various forts on the great 
plains, the stage had to rely on the courage and fighting 
qualities of its occupants, and the nerve and the good 
judgment of the driver. If the latter understood his 
duty thoroughly and was familiar with the methods of 
the savages, he always chose the cover of darkness in 
which to travel in localities where the danger from In- 
dians was greater than elsewhere ; for it is a rare thing in 
savage warfare to attack at night. The early morning 
seemed to be their favourite hour, when sleep oppresses 
most heavily ; and then it was that the utmost vigilance 
was demanded. 

One of the most confusing things to the novice riding 
over the great plains is the idea of distance ; mile after 
mile is travelled on the monotonous trail, with a range of 
hills or a low divide in full sight, yet hours roll by and 
the objects seem no nearer than when they were first ob- 
served. The reason for this seems to be that every atom 
of vapour is eliminated from the air, leaving such an abso- 



152 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAEL 

lute clearness of atmosphere, such an indescribable trans- 
parency of space through which distant objects are seen, 
that they are magnified and look nearer than they really 
are. Consequently, the usual method of calculating dis- 
tance and areas by the eye is ever at fault until custom 
and familiarity force a new standard of measure. 

Mirages, too, were of frequent occurrence on the great 
plains ; some of them wonderful examples of the refract- 
ing properties of light. They assumed all manner of 
fantastic, curious shapes, sometimes ludicrously distorting 
the landscape ; objects, like a herd of buffalo for instance, 
though forty miles away, would seem to be high in air, 
often reversed, and immensely magnified in their propor- 
tions. 

Violent storms were also frequent incidents of the long 
ride. I well remember one night, about thirty years ago, 
when the coach in which I and one of my clerks were 
riding to Fort Dodge was suddenly brought to a standstill 
by a terrible gale of wind and hail. The mules refused 
to face it, and quickly turning around nearly overturned 
the stage, while we, with the driver and conductor, were 
obliged to hold on to the wheels with all our combined 
strength to prevent it from blowing down into a stony 
ravine, on the brink of which we were brought to a halt. 
Fortunatety, these fearful blizzards did not last very long ; 
the wind ceased blowing so violently in a few moments, 
but the rain usually continued until morning. 

It usually happened that you either at once took a great 
liking for your driver and conductor, or the reverse. 
Once, on a trip from Kansas City, nearly a third of a cen- 
tury ago, when I and another man were the only occupants 
of the coach, we entertained quite a friendly feeling for 
our driver ; he was a good-natured, jolly fellow, full of 
anecdote and stories of the Trail, over which he had made 
more than a hundred sometimes adventurous journeys. 



FIRST OVERLAND MAIL 153 

When we arrived at the station at Plum Creek, the coach 
was a little ahead of time, and the driver who was there 
to relieve ours commenced to grumhle at the idea of hav- 
ing to start out before the regular hour. He found fault 
because we had come into the station so soon, and swore 
he could drive where our man could not " drag a halter- 
chain," as he claimed in his boasting. We at once took a 
dislike to him, and secretly wished that he would come to 
grief, in order to cure him of his boasting. Sure enough, 
before we had gone half a mile from the station he incon- 
tinently tumbled the coach over into a sandy arroya, and 
we were delighted at the accident. Finding ourselves 
free from any injury, we went to work and assisted him 
to right the coach — no small task ; but we took great de- 
light in reminding him several times of his ability to 
drive where our old friend could not " drag a halter- 
chain." It was very dark; neither moon or star visible, 
the whole heavens covered with an inky blackness of omi- 
nous clouds ; so he was not so much to be" blamed after all. 

The very next coach was attacked at the crossing of 
Cow Creek by a band of Kiowas. The savages had fol- 
lowed the stage all that afternoon, but remained out of 
sight until just at dark, when they rushed over the low 
divide, and mounted on their ponies commenced to circle 
around the coach, making the sand dunes resound with 
echoes of their infernal yelling, and shaking their buffalo- 
robes to stampede the mules, at the same time firing their 
guns at the men who were in the coach, all of whom made 
a bold stand, but were rapidly getting the worst of it, 
when fortunately a company of United States cavalry 
came over the Trail from the west, and drove the savages 
off. Two of the men in the coach were seriously wounded, 
and one of the soldiers killed ; but the Indian loss was 
never determined, as they succeeded in carrying off both 
their dead and wounded. 



154 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Mr. W. H. Ryus, a friend of mine now residing in Kan- 
sas City, who was a driver and messenger thirty-live years, 
and had many adventures, told me the following incidents : 
" I have crossed the plains sixty-five times by wagon and 
coach. In July, 1861, I was employed by Barnum, 
Vickery, and Neal to drive over what was known as the 
Long Route, that is, from Fort Larned to Fort Lyon, two 
hundred and forty miles, with no station between. We 
drove one set of mules the whole distance, camped out, 
and made the journey, in good weather, in four or five 
days. In winter we generally encountered a great deal 
of snow, and very cold air on the bleak and wind-swept 
desert of the Upper Arkansas, but we employees got 
used to that ; only the passengers did any kicking. We 
had a way of managing them, however, when they got 
very obstreperous ; all we had to do was to yell Indians ! 
and that quieted them quicker than forty-rod whiskey 
does a man. 

" We gathered buffalo-chips, to boil our coffee and 
cook our buffalo and antelope steak, smoked for a^while 
around the smouldering fire until the animals were 
through grazing, and then started on our lonely way 
again. 

" Sometimes the coach would travel for a hundred miles 
through the buffalo herds, never for a moment getting 
out of sight of them ; often we saw fifty thousand to a 
hundred thousand on a single journey out or in. The 
Indians used to call them their cattle, and claimed to 
own them. They did not, like the white man, take out 
only the tongue, or hump, and leave all the rest to dry 
upon the prairie, but ate every last morsel, even to the 
intestines. They said the whites were welcome to all 
they could eat or haul away, but they did not like to see so 
much meat wasted as was our custom. 

" The Indians on the plains were not at all hostile in 



FIRST OVERLAND MAIL 155 

1861-62 ; we could drive into their villages, where there 
were tens of thousands of them, and they would always 
treat us to music or a war-dance, and set before us the 
choicest of their venison and buffalo. In July of the last- 
mentioned year, Colonel Leavenworth, Jr., was crossing 
the Trail in my coach. He desired to see Satanta, the 
great Kiowa chief. The colonel's father 1 was among the 
Indians a great deal while on duty as an army officer, 
while the young colonel was a small boy. The colonel 
said he didn't believe that old Satanta would know him. 

" Just before the arrival of the coach in the region of 
the Indian village, the Comanches and the Pawnees had 
been having a battle. The Comanches had taken some 
scalps, and they were camping on the bank of the Ar- 
kansas River, where Dodge City is now located. The 
Pawnees had killed five of their warriors, and the Co- 
manches were engaged in an exciting war-dance ; I think 
there were from twenty to thirty thousand Indians gath- 
ered there, men, women, and children of the several tribes, 
— Comanches, Kiowas, Cheyennes, Arapahoes, and others. 

" When we came in sight of their camp, the colonel 
knew, by the terrible noise they were making, that a war- 
dance was going on ; but we did not know then whether 
it was on account of troubles among themselves, or because 
of a fight with the whites, but we were determined to 
find out. If he could get to the old chief, all would be 
right. So he and I started for the place whence the noise 
came. We met a savage and the colonel asked him 
whether Satanta was there, and what was going on. 
When he told us that they had had a fight and it was 
a scalp-dance, our hair lowered ; for we knew that if it 
was in consequence of trouble with the whites, we stood 
in some danger of losing our own scalps. 

1 Colonel Leavenworth, for whom Fort Leavenworth is named, and 
who built several army posts in the far West. 



156 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

" The Indian took us in, and the situation, too ; and 
conducted us into the presence of Satanta, who stood 
in the middle of the great circle, facing the dancers. It 
was out on an island in the stream ; the chief stood very 
erect, and eyed us closely for a few seconds, then the colo- 
nel told his own name that the Indians had known him by 
when he was a hoy. Satanta gave one bound, — he was 
at least ten feet from where we were waiting, — grasped 
the colonel's hand and excitedly kissed him, then stood 
back for another instant, gave him a second squeeze, 
offered his hand to me, which I, of course, shook heartily, 
then he gazed at the man he had known as a boy so many 
years ago, with a countenance beaming with delight. I 
never saw any one, even among the white race, manifest 
so much joy as the old chief did over the visit of the 
colonel to his camp. 

"He immediately ordered some of his } r oung men to go 
out and herd our mules through the night, which they 
brought back to us at daylight. He then had the coach 
hauled to the front of his lodge, where we could see all 
that was going on to the best advantage. We had six 
travellers with us on this journey, and it was a great sight 
for the tenderfeet. 

" It was. about ten o'clock at night when we arrived 
at Satanta's lodge, and we saw thousands of squaws and 
bucks dancing and mourning for their dead warriors. At 
midnight the old chief said we must eat something at once. 
So he ordered a fire built, cooked buffalo and venison, set- 
ting before us the very best that he had, we furnishing 
canned fruit, coffee, and sugar from our coach mess. 
There we sat, and talked and ate until morning ; then 
when we were ready to start off, Satanta and the other 
chiefs of the various tribes escorted us about eight miles 
on the Trail, where we halted for breakfast, they remaining 
and eatinsr with us." 



FIRST OVERLAND MAIL 157 

Colonel Leavenworth was on his way to assume com- 
mand of one of the military posts in New Mexico ; the 
Indians begged him to come back and take his quarters 
at either Fort Larned or Fort Dodge. They told him 
they were afraid their agent was stealing their goods 
and selling them back to them ; while if the Indians took 
anything from the whites, a war was started. 

Colonel A. G. Boone had made a treaty with these 
same 'Indians in 1860, and it was agreed that he should 
be their agent. It was done, and the entire savage nations 
were restful and kindly disposed toward the whites during 
his administration ; any one could then cross the plains 
without fear of molestation. In 1861, however, Judge 
Wright, of Indiana, who was a member of Congress at 
the time, charged Colonel Boone with disloyalty. 1 He 
succeeded in having him removed. 

Majors Russel and Waddell, the great government 
freight contractors across the plains, gave Colonel Boone 
fourteen hundred acres of land, well improved, with some 
fine buildings on it, about fifteen miles east of Pueblo, 
Colorado. It was christened Booneville, and the colonel 
moved there. In the fall of 1862, fifty influential In- 
dians of the various tribes visited Colonel Boone at his 
new home, and begged that he would come back to them 
and be their agent. He told the chiefs that the President 
of the United States would not let him. Then they offered 
to sell their horses to raise money for him to go to Wash- 
ington to tell the Great Father what their agent was 
doing ; and to have him removed, or there was going to be 

1 Colonel A. G. Boone, a grandson of the immortal Daniel, was one of 
the grandest old mountaineers I ever knew. He was as loyal as anybody, 
but honest in his dealings with the Indians, and that was often a fault in 
the eyes of those at Washington who controlled these agents. Kit Car- 
son was of the same honest class as Boone, and he, too, was removed for 
the same cause. 



158 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

trouble. The Indians told Colonel Boone that many of 
their warriors would be on the plains that fall, and they 
were declaring they had as much right to take something 
to eat from the trains as their agent had to steal goods 
from them. 

Early in the winter of the next year, a small caravan of 
eight or ten wagons travelling to the Missouri River was 
overhauled at Nine Mile Ridge, about fifty miles west of 
Fort Dodge, by a band of Indians, who asked for some- 
thing to eat. The teamsters, thinking them to be hostile, 
believed it would be a good thing to kill one of them any- 
how; so they shot an inoffensive warrior, after which the 
train moved on to its camp and the trouble began. Every 
man in the whole outfit, with the exception of one teamster, 
who luckily got to the Arkansas River and hid, was mur- 
dered, the animals all carried away, and the wagons and 
contents destroyed by fire. 

This foolish act by the master of the caravan was the 
cause of a long war, causing hundreds of atrocious mur- 
ders and the destruction of a great deal of pro}jerty along 
the whole Western frontier. 

That fall, 1863, Mr. Ryus was the messenger or conductor 
in charge of the coach running from Kansas City to Santa 
Fe. He said : " It then required a month to make the 
round trip, about eighteen hundred miles. On account of 
the Indian war we had to have an escort of soldiers to go 
through the most dangerous portions of the Trail ; and 
the caravans all joined forces for mutual safety, besides 
having an escort. 

" My coach was attacked several times during that 
season, and we had many close calls for our scalps. Some- 
times the Indians would follow us for miles, and we had 
to halt and fight them; but as for myself, I had no desire 
to kill one of the miserable, outraged creatures, who had 
been swindled out of their iust rig-hts. 



FIRST OVERLAND MAIL 



159 



" I know of but one occasion when we were engaged 
in a fight with them when our escort killed any of the 
attacking savages ; it was about two miles from Little 
Coon Creek Station, where they surrounded the coach 
and commenced hostilities. In the fight one officer and 
one enlisted man were wounded. The escort chased the 
band for several miles, killed nine of them, and got their 
horses." 




CHAPTER X 

THE TRAGEDY IN THE CANON OF THE CANADIAN DRAGOONS 

FOLLOW THE TRAIL OF THE SAVAGES KIT CARSON, DICK 

WOOTON, AND TOM TOBLN THE SCOUTS OF THE EXPEDITION 

MORE THAN A HUNDRED OF THE SAVAGES KILLED 

MURDER OF MRS. WHITE WHITE WOLF LIEUTENANT 

BELL'S SINGULAR DUEL WITH THE NOTED SAVAGE OLD 

WOLF SATANK — MURDER OF. PEACOCK SATANTA MADE 

CHIEF KICKING BIRD HIS TRAGIC DEATH — CHARLES 

BENT, THE HALF-BREED RENEGADE HIS TERRIBLE ACTS 

HIS DEATH 



LMOST immediately 
after the ratification of 
the purchase of New 
Mexico by the United 
States under the stipula- 
tions of the " Guadalupe- 
Hidalgo Treaty," the 
; Utes, one of the most power- 
%' ful tribes of mountain Indi- 
Jv; ans, inaugurated a bloody and 
relentless war against the civ- 
ilized inhabitants of the Ter- 
ritory. It was accompanied by 
all the horrible atrocities which 
mark the tactics of savage hatred 
toward the white race. It continued for 
several years with more or less severity ; its record a 
chapter of history whose pages are deluged with blood, 
until finally the Indians were subdued by the power of 

the military. 

160 




CHARLES BENT 161 

Along the line of the Santa Fe Trail, they were fre- 
quently in conjunction with the Apaches, and their depre- 
dations and atrocities were very numerous ; they attacked 
fearlessly freight caravans, private expeditions, and over- 
land stage-coaches, robbing and murdering indiscrimi- 
nately. 

In January, 1847, the mail and passenger stage left 
Independence, Missouri, for Santa F6" on one of its 
regular trips across the plains. It had its full comple- 
ment of passengers, among whom were a Mr. White and 
family, consisting of his wife, one child, and a coloured 
nurse. 

Day after day the lumbering Concord coach rolled on, 
with nothing to disturb the monotony of the vast prairies, 
until it had left them far behind and crossed the Range 
into New Mexico. Just about dawn, as the unsuspecting 
travellers were entering the " canon of the Canadian," J 
and probably waking up from their long night's sleep, a 
band of Indians, with blood-curdling yells and their terrific 
war-whoop, rode down upon them. 

In that lonely and rock-sheltered gorge a party of the 
hostile savages, led by " White Wolf," a chief of the 
Apaches, had been awaiting the arrival of the coach from 
the East ; the very hour it was due was well known to 
them, and they had secreted themselves there the night 
before so as to be on hand should it reach their chosen 
ambush a little before the schedule time. 

Out dashed the savages, gorgeous in their feathered 
war-bonnets, but looking like fiends with their paint- 
bedaubed faces. Stopping the frightened mules, they 

1 A narrow defile on the Trail, about ninety miles east of Fort Union. 
It is called the "canon of the Canadian, or Red, River," and is situated 
between high walls of earth and rock. It was once a very dangerous 
spot on account of the ease and rapidity with which the savages could 
ambush themselves. 



162 THE OLD SANTA FE TKAIL 

pulled open the doors of the coach and, mercilessly drag- 
ging its helpless and surprised inmates to the ground, 
immediately began their butchery. They scalped and 
mutilated the dead bodies of their victims in their usual 
sickening manner, not a single individual escaping, appar- 
ently, to tell of their fiendish acts. 

If the Indians had been possessed of sufficient cunning 
to cover up the tracks of their horrible atrocities, as 
probably white robbers would have done, by dragging the 
coach from the road and destroying it by fire or other 
means, the story of the murders committed in the deep 
canon might never have been known ; but they left the 
tell-tale remains of the dismantled vehicle just where they 
had attacked it, and the naked corpses of its passengers 
where they had been ruthlessly killed. 

At the next stage station the employees were anxiously 
waiting for the arrival of the coach, and wondering what 
could have caused the delay; for it was due there at noon 
on the day of the massacre. Hour after hour passed, and 
at last they began to suspect that something serious had 
occurred ;' they sat up all through the night listening for 
the familiar rumbling of wheels, but still no stage. At 
daylight next morning, determined to wait no longer, as 
they felt satisfied that something out of the usual course 
had happened, a party hurriedly mounted their horses 
and rode down the broad trail leading to the canon. 

Upon entering its gloomy mouth after a quick lope of 
an hour, they discovered the ghastly remains of twelve 
mutilated bodies. These were gathered up and buried in 
one grave, on the top of the bluff overlooking the narrow 
gorge. 

They could not be sure of the number of passengers 
the coach had brought until the arrival of the next, as it 
would have a list of those carried by its predecessor ; but 
it would not be due for several days. They naturally 



CHARLES BENT 163 

supposed, however, that the twelve dead lying on the 
ground were its full complement. 

Not waiting for the arrival of the next stage, they 
despatched a messenger to the last station east that the 
one whose occupants had been murdered had passed, and 
there learned the exact number of passengers it had con- 
tained. Now they knew that Mrs. White, her child, and 
the coloured nurse had been carried off into a captivity 
worse than death ; for no remains of a woman were found 
with the others lying in the canon. 

The terrible news of the massacre was conveyed to 
Taos, where were stationed several companies of the 
Second United States Dragoons, commanded by Major 
William Greer ; but as the weather had grown intensely 
cold and stormy since the date of the massacre, it took 
nearly a fortnight for the terrible story to reach there. 
The major acted promptly when appealed to to go after . 
and punish the savages concerned in the outrage, but sev- 
eral days more were lost in getting an expedition ready 
for the field. It was still stormy while the command was 
preparing for its work; but at last, one bright morning, 
in a piercing cold wind, five troops of the dragoons, com- 
manded by Major Greer in person, left their comfortable 
quarters to attempt the rescue of Mrs. White, her child, 
and nurse. 

Kit Carson, " Uncle Dick " Wooton, Joaquin Leroux, 
and Tom Tobin were the principal scouts and guides 
accompanjdng the exj)edition. having volunteered their 
services to Major Greer, which he had gladly accepted. 

The massacre having occurred three weeks before the 
command arrived at the canon of the Canadian, and 
snow having fallen almost continuously ever since, the 
ground was deeply covered, making it almost impossible 
to find the trail of the savages leading out of the gorge. 
No one knew where they had established their winter 



164 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

camp, i — probably hundreds of miles distant on some trib- 
utary of the Canadian far to the south. 

Carson, Wooton, and Leroux, after scanning the ground 
carefully at every point, though the snow was ten inches 
deep, in a way of which only men versed in savage lore 
are capable, were rewarded by discovering certain signs, 
unintelligible to the ordinary individual, 1 — that the mur- 
derers had gone south out of the cation immediately after 
completing their bloody work, and that their camp was 
somewhere on the river, but how far off none could tell. 

The command followed up the trail discovered by the 
scouts for nearly four hundred miles. Early one morning 
when that distance had been rounded, and just as the 
men were about to break camp preparatory to the day's 
march, Carson went out on a little reconnoissance on his 
own account, as he had noticed a flock of ravens hovering 
in the air when he first got out of his blankets at dawn, 
which was sufficient indication to him that an Indian 
camp was located somewhere in the vicinity ; for that 
ominous bird is always to be found in the region where 
the savages take up an abode, feeding upon the carcasses 
of the many varieties of game killed for food. He had 
not proceeded more than half a mile from the camp when 
he discovered two Indians slowly riding over a low 
" divide," driving a herd of ponies before them. The 
famous scout was then certain their village could not 
be very far away. The savages did not observe him, 
as he took good care they should not; so he returned 
quickly to where Major Greer was standing by his camp- 

1 Carson, Wooton, and all other expert mountaineers, when following 
a trail, could always tell just what time had elapsed since it was made. 
This may seem strange to the uninitiated, but it was part of their neces- 
sary education. They could tell what kind of a track it was, which way 
the person or animal had walked, and even the tribe to which the savage 
belonged, either by the shape of the moccasin or the arrows which were 
occasionally dropped. 



CHARLES BENT 165 

fire and reported the presence of a village very close at 
hand. 

The Major having sent for Tom Tobin and Uncle Dick 
Wooton, requested them to go and find the exact location 
of the savages. These scouts came back in less than half 
an hour, and reported a large number of teepees in a thick 
grove of timber a mile away. 

It was at once determined to surprise the savages in 
their winter quarters by charging right among their 
lodges without allowing them time to mount their ponies, 
as the gallant Custer rode, at the head of his famous 
troopers of the Seventh Cavalry, into the camp of the 
celebrated chief "Black Kettle" on the Washita, in the 
dawn of a cold November morning twenty years after- 
ward. 

The command succeeded in getting within good charg- 
ing distance of the village without its occupants having 
any knowledge of its proximity ; but at this moment 
Major Greer was seized with an idea that he ought to 
have a parley with the Indians before he commenced to 
fight them, and for that purpose he ordered a halt, just as 
the soldiers were eager for the sound of the " Charge ! " 

Never were a body of men more enraged. Carson gave 
vent to his wrath in a series of elaborately carved English 
oaths, for which he was noted when young ; Leroux, whose 
naturally hot blood was roused, swore at the Major in a 
curious mixture of bad French and worse mountain dia- 
lect, and it appeared as if the battle would begin in the 
ranks of the troops instead of those of the" savages ; for 
never was a body of soldiers so disgusted at the act of 
any commanding officer. 

This delay gave the Indians, who could be seen dodging 
about among their lodges and preparing for a fight that 
was no longer a surprise, time to hide their women and 
children, mount their ponies, and get down into deep 



166 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

ravines, where the soldiers could not follow them. While 
the Major was trying to convince his subordinates that 
his course was the proper one, the Indians opened fire 
without any parley, and it happened that at the first volley 
a bullet struck him in the breast, but a suspender buckle 
deflected its course and he Avas not seriously wounded. 

The change in the countenance of their commanding 
officer caused by the momentary pain was just the incen- 
tive the troopers wanted, and without waiting for the 
sound of the trumpet, they spurred their horses, dashed 
in, and charged the thunderstruck savages with the 
shock of a tornado. 

In two successful charges of the gallant and impatient 
troopers more than a hundred of the Indians were killed 
and wounded, but the time lost had permitted many to 
escape, and the pursuit of the stragglers would have been 
unavailing under the circumstances ; so the command 
turned back and returned to Taos. In the village was 
found the body of Mrs. White still warm, with three 
arrows in her breast. Had the charge been made as origi- 
nally expected by the troopers, her life would have been 
saved. No trace of the child or of the coloured nurse was 
ever discovered, and it is probable that they were both 
killed while en route from the canon to the village, as 
being valueless to keep either as slaves or for other pur- 
poses. 

The fate of the Apache chief, " White Wolf," who was 
the leader in the outrages in the canon of the Canadian, 
was fitting for his devilish deeds. It was Lieutenant 
David Bell's fortune to avenge the murder of Mrs. White 
and her family, and in an extraordinary manner. 1 The 
action was really dramatic, or romantic ; he was on a scout 
with his company, which was stationed at Fort Union, New 

1 Lieutenant Bell belonged to the Second Dragoons. He was conspicu- 
% ous in extraordinary marches and in action, and also an accomplished 



CHAKLES BENT 167 

Mexico, having about thirty men with him, and when near 
the canon of the Canadian they met about the same num- 
ber of Indians. A parley was in order at once, probably 
desired by the savages, who were confronted with an 
equal number of troopers. Bell had assigned the baggage- 
mules to the care of five or six of his command, and held 
a, mounted interview with the chief, who was no other 
than the infamous White Wolf of the Jicarilla Apaches. 
As Bell approached, White Wolf was standing in front 
of his Indians, who were on foot, all well armed and in 
perfect line. Bell was in advance of his troopers, who 
were about twenty paces from the Indians, exactly equal 
in number and extent of line ; both parties were prepared 
to use firearms. 

The parley was almost tediously long and the impend- 
ing duel was arranged, White Wolf being very bold and 
defiant. 

At last the leaders exchanged shots, the chief sinking 
on one knee and aiming his gun, Bell throwing his body 
forward and making his horse rear. Both lines, by com- 
mand, fired, following the example of their superiors, the 
troopers, however, spurring forward over their enemies. 
The warriors, or nearly all of them, threw themselves on 
the ground, and several vertical wounds were received by 
horse and rider. The dragoons turned short about, and 
again charged through and over their enemies, the fire 
being continuous. As they turned for a third charge, the 
surviving Indians were seen escaping to a deep ravine, 
which, although only one or two hundred paces off, had 
not previously been noticed. A number of the savages 
thus escaped, the troopers having to pull up at the brink, 
but sending a volley after the descending fugitives. 

horseman and shot, once running and killing five buffalo in a quarter of a 
mile. He died early in 1861, and his death was a great loss to the ser- 
vice. 



168 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

In less than fifteen minutes twenty-one of the forty-six 
actors in this strange combat were slain or disabled. Bell 
was not hit, but four or five of his men were killed or 
wounded, He had shot White Wolf several times, and 
so did others after him ; but so tenacious of life was the 
Apache that, to finish him, a trooper got a great stone 
and mashed his head. 

This was undoubtedly the greatest duel of modern 
times ; certainly nothing like it ever occurred on the 
Santa Fe Trail before or since. 

The war chief of the Kiowa nation in the early '50's 
was Satank, a most unmitigated villain ; cruel and heart- 
less as any savage that ever robbed a stage-coach or 
wrenched off the hair of a helpless woman. After serving 
a dozen or more 3 r ears with a record for hellish atrocities 
equalled by few of his compeers, he was deposed for 
alleged cowardice, as his warriors claimed, under the fol- 
lowing circumstances : — 

The village of his tribe was established in the large 
bottoms, eight miles from the Great Bend of the Arkansas, 
and about the same distance from Fort Zarah. 1 All the 
bucks were absent on a hunting expedition, excepting 
Satank and a few superannuated warriors. The troops 
were out from Fort Larned on a grand scout after 
marauding savages, when they suddenly came across the 
village and completely took the Kiowas by surprise. See- 
ing the soldiers almost upon them, Satank and other 
warriors jumped on their ponies and made good their 
escape. Had they remained, all of them would have 
been killed or at least captured ; consequently Satank, 
thinking discretion better than valour at that particular 
juncture, incontinently fled. His warriors in council, 
however, did not agree with him ; they thought that it 
was his duty to have remained at the village in defence of 
1 Known to this day as " The Cheyenne Bottoms." 



CHARLES BENT 169 

the women and children, as he had been urged to refrain 
from going on the hunt for that very purpose. 

Some time before Satanic lost his office of chief, there 
was living on Cow Creek, in a rude adobe building, a man 
who was ostensibly an Indian trader, but whose traffic, in 
reality, consisted in selling whiskey to the Indians, and 
consequently the United States troops were always after 
him. He was obliged to cache his liquor in every con- 
ceivable manner so that the soldiers should not discover 
it, and, of course, he dreaded the incursions of the troops 
much more than he did raids of the Indian marauders 
that were constantly on the Trail. 

Satank and this illicit trader, whose name was Peacock, 
were great chums. One day while they were indulging 
in a general good time over sundry drinks of most villan- 
ous liquor, Satank said to Peacock : " Peacock, I want 
you to write me a letter ; a real nice one, that I can show 
to the wagon-bosses on the Trail, and get all the ' chuck ' 
I want. Tell them I am Satank, the great chief of the 
Kiowas, and for them to treat me the best they know 
how." 

" All right, Satank," said Peacock ; " I'll do so." Pea- 
cock then sat down and wrote the following epistle : — 

"The bearer of this is Satank. He is the biggest liar, 
beggar, and thief on the plains. What he can't beg of 
you, he'll steal. Kick him out of camp, for he is a lazy, 
good-for-nothing Indian. " 

Satank began at once to make use of the supposed pre- 
cious document, which he really believed would assure 
him the dignified treatment and courtesy due to his 
exalted rank. He presented it to several caravans during 
the ensuing week, and, of course, received a very cool 
reception in every instance, or rather a very warm one. 

One wagon-master, in fact, black-snaked him out of his 
camp. After these repeated insults he sought another 



170 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

white friend, and told of his grievances. " Look here," 
said Satank, " I asked Peacock to write me a good letter, 
and he gave me this ; but I don't understand it ! Every 
time I hand it to a wagon-boss, he gives me the devil ! 
Read it to me and tell me just what it does say." 

His friend read it over, and then translated it literally 
to Satank. The savage assumed a countenance of extreme 
disgust, and after musing for a few moments, said : " Well, 
I understand it all now. All right ! " 

The next morning at daylight, Satank called for some 
of his braves and with them rode out to Peacock's ranch. 
Arriving there, he called out to Peacock, who had not yet 
risen : " Peacock, get up, the soldiers are coming ! " It 
was a warning which the illicit trader quickly obeyed, 
and running out of the building with his field-glass in his 
hand, he started for his lookout, but while he was ascend- 
ing the ladder with his back to Satank the latter shot 
him full of holes, saying, as he did so : " There, Peacock, 
I guess you won't write any more letters." 

His warriors then entered the building and killed every 
man in it, save one who had been gored by a buffalo 
bull the day before, and who was lying in a room all by 
himself. He was saved by the fact that the Indian has 
a holy dread of small-pox, and will never enter an apart- 
ment where sick men lie, fearing they may have the awful 
disease. 

Satanta (White Bear) was the most efficient and 
dreaded chief of all who have ever been at the head of the 
Kiowa nation. Ever restlessly active in ordering or con- 
ducting merciless forays against an exposed frontier, he 
was the very incarnation of deviltry in his determined 
hatred of the whites, and his constant warfare against 
civilization. 

He also possessed wonderful oratorical powers ; he could 
hurl the most violent invectives at those whom he argued 



CHARLES BENT 171 

with, or he could be equally pathetic when necessary. He 
was justly called " The Orator of the Plains," rivalling 
the historical renown of Tecumseh or Pontiac. 

He was a short, bullet-headed Indian, full of courage 
and well versed in strategy. Ordinarily, when on his 
visits to the various military posts he wore a major- 
general's full uniform, a suit of that rank having been 
given to him in the summer of 1866 by General Han- 
cock. He also owned an ambulance, a team of mules, 
and a set of harness, the last stolen, maybe, from some 
caravan he had raided on the Trail. In that ambulance, 
with a trained Indian driver, the wily chief travelled, 
wrapped in a savage dignity that was truly laughable. 
In his village, too, he assumed a great deal of style. He 
was very courteous to his white guests, if at the time 
his tribe were at all friendly with the government ; noth- 
ing was too good for them. He always laid down a car- 
pet on the floor of his lodge in the post of honour, on 
which they were to sit. He had large boards, twenty 
inches wide and three feet long, ornamented with brass 
tacks driven all around the edges, which he used for 
tables. He also had a French horn, which he blew vig-. 
orously when meals were ready. 

His friendship was only dissembling. During all the 
time that General Sheridan was making his preparations 
for his intended winter campaign against the allied plains 
tribes, Satanta made frequent visits to the military posts, 
ostensibly to show the officers that he was heartily for 
peace, but really to inform himself of what was going on. 

At that time I was stationed at Fort Harker, on the 
Smoky Hill. One evening, General Sheridan, who was 
my guest, was sitting on the verandah of my quarters, 
smoking and chatting with me and some other officers 
who had come to pay him their respects, when one of 
my men rode up and quietly informed me that Satanta 



172 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

had just driven his ambulance into the fort, and was get- 
ting ready to camp near the mule corral. On receiving 
this information, I turned to the general and suggested 
the propriety of either killing or capturing the inveterate 
demon. Personally I believed it would be right to get 
rid of such a character, and I had men under my command 
who would have been delighted to execute an order to 
that effect. 

Sheridan smiled when I told him of Satanta's presence 
and the excellent chance to get rid of him. But he said : 
" That would never do ; the sentimentalists in the Eastern 
States would raise such a howl that the whole country 
would be horrified ! " 

Of course, in these " piping times of peace "" the reader, 
in the quiet of his own room, will think that my sugges- 
tion was brutal, and without any palliation ; my excuse, 
however, may be found in General Washington's own 
motto : Exitus acta probat. If the suggestion had been 
acted upon, many an innocent man and woman would 
have escaped torture, and many a maiden a captivity 
worse than death. 

As a specimen of Satanta's oratory, I offer the follow- 
ing, to show the hypocrisy of the subtle old villain, and 
his power over the minds of too sensitive auditors. Once 
Congress sent out to the central plains a commission 
from Washington to inquire into the causes of the con- 
tinual warfare rap-ino- with the savages on the Kansas 
border ; to learn what the grievances of the Indians were; 
and to find some remedy for the wholesale slaughter of 
men, women, and children along the line of the Old Trail. 

Satanta was sent for by the commission as the lead- 
ing spirit of the formidable Kiowa nation. When he 
entered the building at Fort Dodge in which daily ses- 
sions were held, he was told by the president to speak 
his mind without any reservation ; to withhold nothing, 



CHARLES BENT . 173 

but to truthfully relate what his tribe had to complain 
of on the part of the whites. The old rascal grew very 
pathetic as he warmed up to his subject. He declared 
that he had no desire to kill the white settlers or emi- 
grants crossing the plains, but that those who came and 
lived on the land of his tribe ruthlessly slaughtered the 
buffalo, allowing their carcasses to rot on the prairie ; 
killing them merely for the amusement it afforded them, 
while the Indian only killed when necessity demanded. 
He also stated that the white hunters set out fires, de- 
stroying the grass, and causing the tribe's horses to starve 
to death as well as the buffalo ; that they cut down and 
otherwise destroyed the timber on the margins of the 
streams, making large fires of it, while the Indian Avas 
satisfied to cook his food with a few dry and dead limbs. 
" Only the other day," said he, " I picked up a little 
switch on the Trail, and it made my heart bleed to think 
that so small a green branch, ruthlessly torn out of the 
ground and thoughtlessly destroyed by some white man, 
would in time have grown into a stately tree for the use 
and benefit of my children and grandchildren." 

After the pow-wow had ended, and Satanta had got a 
few drinks of red liquor into him, his real, savage nature 
asserted itself, and he said to the interpreter at the set- 
tler's store : " Now didn't I give it to those white men 
who came from the Great Father ? Didn't I do it in fine 
style ? Why, I drew tears from their eyes ! The switch 
I saw on the Trail made my heart glad instead of sad ; 
for I knew there was a tenderfoot ahead of me, because 
an old plainsman or hunter would never have carried any- 
thing but a good quirt or a pair of spurs. So I said to 
my warriors, ' Come on, bojs ; we've got him ! ' and when 
we came in sight, after Ave had followed him closely on 
the dead run, he threw away his rifle and held tightly on 
to his hat for fear he should lose it ! " 



174 THE OLD SANTA EE TRAIL 

Another time when Satanta had remained at Fort 
Dodge for a very long period and had worn out his wel- 
come, so that no one would give him anything to drink, 
he went to the quarters of his old friend, Bill Bennett, 
the overland stage agent, and begged him to give him 
some liquor. Bill was mixing a bottle of medicine to 
drench a sick mule. The moment he set the bottle down 
to do something else, Satanta seized it off the ground 
and drank most of the liquid before quitting. Of course, 
it made the old savage dreadfully sick as well as angry. 
He then started for a certain officer's quarters and again 
begged for something to cure him of the effects of the 
former dose ; the officer refused, but Satanta persisted in 
his importunities ; he would not leave without it. After 
a while, the officer went to a closet and took a swallow of 
the most nauseating medicine, placing the bottle back 
on its shelf. Satanta watched his chance, and, as soon as 
the officer left the room, he snatched the bottle out of the 
closet and drank its contents without stopping to breathe. 
It was, of course, a worse dose than the horse-medicine. 
The next day, very early in the morning, he assembled a 
number of his . warriors, crossed the Arkansas, and went 
south to his village. Before leaving, however, he burnt 
all of the government contractor's hay on the bank of the 
river opposite the post. He then continued on to Crooked 
Creek, where he murdered three wood-choppers, all of 
which, he said afterward, he did in revenge for the at- 
tempt to poison him at Fort Dodge. 

At the Comanche agency, where several of the gov- 
ernment agents were assembled to have a talk with the 
chiefs of the various plains tribes, Satanta said in his 
address : " I would willingly take hold of that part of 
the white man's road which is represented by the breech- 
loading rifles ; but I don't like the corn rations, — they 
make my teeth hurt ! " 



CHARLES BENT 175 

Big Tree was another Kiowa chief. He was the ally 
and close friend of Satanta, and one of the most daring 
and active of his warriors. The sagacity and bravery of 
these two savages would have been a credit to that of the 
most famous warriors of the old French and Indian Wars. 
Both were at last taken, tried, and sent to the Texas peni- 
tentiary for life. Satanta was eventually pardoned ; but 
before he was made aware of the efforts that were being 
taken for his release, he attempted to escape, and, in 
jumping from a window, fell and broke his neck. His 
pardon arrived the next morning. Big Tree, through the 
work of the sentimentalists of Washington, was set free . 
and sent to the Kiowa Reservation, — near Fort Sill in 
the Indian Territory. 

The next most audacious and terrible scourge of the 
plains was " Ta-ne-on-koe " (Kicking Bird). He was a 
great warrior of the Kiowas, and was the chief actor in 
some of the bloodiest raids on the Kansas frontier in the 
history of its troublous times. 

One of his captures was that of a Miss Morgan and 
Mrs. White. They were finally rescued from the savages 
by- General Custer, under the following circumstances : 
Custer, who was advancing with his column of invincible 
cavalrymen — the famous Seventh United States — in 
search of the two unfortunate women, had arrived near 
the head waters of one of the tributaries of the Washita, 
and, with only his guide and interpreter, was far in ad- 
vance of the column, when, on reaching the summit of an 
isolated bluff, they suddenly saw a village of the Kiowas, 
which turned out to be that of Kicking Bird, whose 
handsome lodge was easily distinguishable from the rest. 
Without waiting for his command, the general and his 
guide rode boldly to the lodge of the great chief, and both 
dismounted, holding cocked revolvers in their hands ; 
Custer presented his at Kicking Bird's head. In the 



176 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

meantime, Custer's column of troopers, whom the Kiowas 
had good reason to remember for their bravery in many a 
hard-fought battle, came in full view of the astonished 
village. This threw the startled savages into the utmost 
consternation, but the warriors were held in check by 
signs from Kicking Bird. As the cavalry drew nearer, 
General Custer demanded the immediate release of the 
white women. Their presence in the village was at first 
denied by the lying chief, and not until he had been led 
to the limb of a huge cottonwood tree near the lodge, 
with a rope around his neck, did he acknowledge that he 
held the women and consent to give them up. 

This well-known warrior, with a foreknowledge not 
usually found in the savage mind, seeing the beginning of 
the end of Indian sovereignt}' on the plains, voluntarily 
came in and surrendered himself to the authorities, and 
stayed on the reservation near Fort Sill. 

In June, 1867, a year before the breaking out of the 
great Indian war on the central plains, the whole tribe 
of Kiowas, led by him, assembled at Fort Larned. He 
was the cynosure of all eyes, as lie was without question 
one of the noblest-looking savages ever seen on the plains. 
On that occasion he wore the full uniform of a major- 
general of the United States army. He was as correct!}' 
moulded as a statue when on horseback, and when mounted 
on his magnificent charger the morning he rode out with 
General Hancock to visit the immense Indian camp a few 
miles above the fort on Pawnee Fork, it would have 
been a difficult task to have determined which was the 
finer-looking man. 

After Kicking Bird had abandoned his wicked career, 
he was regarded by every army officer with whom he had 
a personal acquaintance as a remarkably good Indian ; for 
he really made the most strenuous efforts to initiate his 
tribe into the idea that it was best for it to follow the 



CHARLES BENT 177 

white man's road. He argued with them that the time 
was very near when there would no longer be any region 
where the Indians could live as they had been doing, 
depending on the buffalo and other game for the suste- 
nance of their families; they must adapt themselves to 
the methods of their conquerors. 

In July, 1869, he became greatly offended with the 
government for its enforced removal of his tribe from 
its natural and hereditary hunting-grounds into the reser- 
vation allotted to it. At that time many of his warriors, 
together with the Comanches, made a raid on the defence- 
less settlements of the northern border of Texas, in Avhich 
the savages were disastrously defeated, losing a large 
number of their most beloved warriors. On the return 
of the unsuccessful expedition, a great council was held, 
consisting of all the chiefs and head men of the two 
tribes which had suffered so terribly in the awful light, to 
consider the best means of avenging the loss of so many 
braves and friends. Kicking Bird was summoned before 
that council and condemned as a coward ; they called him 
a squaw, because he had refused to go with the warriors 
of the combined tribes on the raid into Texas. 

He told a friend of mine some time afterward that he 
had intended never again to go against the whites ; but 
the emergency of the case, and his severe condemnation 
by the council, demanded that he should do something to 
re-establish himself in the good graces of his tribe. He 
then made one of the most destructive raids into Texas 
that ever occurred in the history of its border warfare, 
which successfully restored him to the respect of his war- 
riors. 

In that raid Kicking Bird carried off vast herds of 
horses and a large number of scalps. Although his tribe 
fairly worshipped him, he was not at all satisfied with 
himself. He could look into the future as well as any 



178 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

one, and from that time on to his tragic death he laboured 
most zealously and earnestly in connection with the Indian 
agents to bring his people to live on the reservation 
which the government had established for them in the 
Territory. 

At the inauguration of the so-called " Quaker Policy " 
by President Grant, that sect was largely intrusted with 
the management of Indian affairs, particularly in the 
selection of agents for the various tribes. A Mr. Tatham 
was appointed agent for the Kiowas in 1869. He at once 
gained the confidence of Kicking Bird, who became very 
valuable to him as an assistant in controlling the savages. 
It was through that chief's influence that Thomas Batty, 
another Quaker, was allowed to take up his residence with 
the tribe, the first white man ever accorded that privilege. 
Batty was permitted to erect three tents, which were 
staked together, converting them into an ample school- 
house. In that crude, temporary structure he taught the 
Kiowa youth the rudiments of an education. This very suc- 
cessful innovation shows how earnest the former dreaded 
savage was in his efforts to promote the welfare of his 
people, by trying to induce them to " take the white 
man's road." 

Batty succeeded admirably for a year in his office of 
teacher, the chief all the time nobly withstanding the 
taunts and jeers of his warriors and their threats of tak- 
ing his life, for daring to allow a white man within the 
sacred precincts of their village, — a thing unparalleled 
in the annals of the tribe. 

At last trouble came ; the dissatisfied members of the 
tribe, the ambitious and restless young men, eager for re- 
nown, made another unsuccessful raid into Texas. The re- 
sult was that they lost nearly the whole of the band, among 
which was the favourite son of Lone Wolf, a noted chief. 1 
1 Lone Wolf was really the head chief of the Kiowas. 



CHAKLES BENT 179 

After the death of his son, he declared that he must and 
would have the scalp of a white man in revenge for the 
untimely taking off of the young warrior. Of course, the 
most available white man at this juncture was Batty, 
the Quaker teacher, and he was chosen by Lone Wolf as 
the victim of savage revenge. Here the noble instincts 
of Kicking Bird developed themselves. He very plainly 
told Lone Wolf, who was constantly threatening and 
thirsting for blood, that he could not kill Batty until he 
first killed him and all Ins band. But Lone Wolf had 
fully determined to have the hair of the innocent Quaker ; 
so Kicking Bird, to avert any collision between the two 
bands of Indians, kidnapped Batty and ran him off to the 
agency, arriving at Fort Sill about an hour before Lone 
Wolf's band of avengers overtook them, and thus the 
Quaker teacher was saved. 

One day, long after these occurrences, a friend of mine 
was in the sutler's store at Fort Sill. In there was a 
stranger talking to Mr. Fox, the agent of the Indians. 
Soon Kicking Bird entered the establishment, and the 
stranger asked Mr. Fox who that fine-looking Indian was. 
He was told, and then he begged the agent to say to him 
that he would like to have a talk with liim ; for he it was 
who led that famous raid into Texas. " I never saw 
better generalship in the field in all my experience. He 
had three horses killed under him. I was the surgeon 
of the rangers and was, of course, in the fight." 1 

When Kicking Bird Avas told that the Texas doctor 
desired to talk with him, he replied with great dignity 
that he did not want to revive those troublous times. 
" Tell him, though," said Kicking Bird, " that was my 
last raid against the whites; that I am a changed man." 

The President of the United States sent for Kicking 
Bird to come to Washington, and to bring with him such 
1 The battle lasted three days. 



180 THE OLD SANTA EE TRAIL 

other influential Indians as he thought might aid in 
inducing the Kiowas to cease their continual raiding on 
the border of Texas. 

In due time Kicking Bird left for the capital, taking 
with him Lone Wolf, Big Bow, and Sun Boy of the 
Kiowas, together with several of the head men of the 
Comanches. When the deputation of savages arrived in 
Washington, it was received at the presidential mansion 
by the chief magistrate himself. So much more attention 
was given to Kicking Bird than to the others, that they 
became very jealous, particularly when the President an- 
nounced to them the appointment of Kicking Bird as the 
head chief of the tribe. 1 But Lone Wolf would never 
recognize his authority, constantly urging the young men 
to raid the settlements. Lone Wolf was a genuine sav- 
age, without one redeeming trait, and his hatred of the 
white race was unparalleled in its intensity. He was 
never known to smile. No other Indian can show such a 
record of horrible massacres as he is responsible for. His 
orders were rigidly obeyed, for he brooked no disobedi- 
ence on the part of his warriors. 

In the summer of 1876, a party of English gentlemen 
left Fort Harker for a buffalo hunt. Thej' soon exhausted 
all their rations and started a four-mule team back to the 
post for more. Some of Lone Wolf's band of cut-throats 
came across the unfortunate teamster, killed him, and ran 
off the team. After the occurrence, Kicking Bird came 
into the agency at Fort Sill and told Air. Ha worth, the 
agent, that he had given his word to the Great Father at 
Washington he would do all he could to bring" in those 
Indians who had been raiding by order of Lone Wolf, 
particularly the two who had killed the Englishmen's 
driver. 

1 Kicking Bird was ever afterward so regarded by the authorities of 
the Indian department. 



CHARLES BENT 181 

He succeeded in bringing in twelve Indians in all, 
among them the murderers of the driver. They, with 
Lone Wolf and Satank, were sent to the Dry Tortugas 
for life. The morning they started on their journey 
Satank talked very feelingly to Kicking Bird, with tears 
in his eyes. He said that they might look for his hones 
along the road, for he would never go to Florida. The 
savages were loaded into government wagons. Satank 
was inside of one with a soldier on each side of him, 
their legs hanging outside. Somehow the crafty villain 
managed to slip the handcuffs off his wrists, at the same 
instant seizing the rifle of one of his guards, and then 
shoved the two men out with his feet. He tried to work 
the lever of the rifle, but could not move it, and one of 
the soldiers, coming around the wagon to where he was 
still trying to get the gun so as he could use it, shot 
him down, and then threw his body on the Trail. Thus 
Satank made good his vow that he would never be taken 
to Florida. He met his death only a mile from the post. 

After the departure of the condemned savages, the feel- 
ing in the tribe against Kicking Bird increased to an 
alarming extent. Several times the most incensed warriors 
tried to kill him by shooting at him from an ambush. 
After he became fully aware that his life was in danger, 
he never left his lodge without his carbine. He was as 
brave as a lion, fearing none of the members of Lone 
Wolf's band ; but he often said it was only a question of 
a short time when he would be gotten rid of ; he did 
not^llow the matter, however, to worry him in the least, 
saying .that he was conscious he had done his duty by his 
tribe and the Great Father. 

In a bend of Cash Creek, about half a mile below the 
mill, about half a dozen of the Kiowas had their lodges, 
that of their chief being among them. At ten o'clock 
one Monday in June, 1876, Mr. Haworth, the agent, came 



182 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

ill haste to the shops, called the master mechanic, Mr. 
Wykes, out, told him to jump into the carriage quickly; 
that Kicking Bird was dead. 

When they arrived at the home of the great chief, sure 
enough he was dead, and some of the women were engaged 
in folding his body in robes. Other squaws were cutting 
themselves in a -terrible manner, as is their custom when 
a relative dies, and were also breaking everything break- 
able about the lodge. Kicking Bird had always been 
scrupulously clean and neat in the care of his home ; it 
was adorned with the most beautifully dressed buffalo 
robes and the finest furs, while the floor was covered 
with matting. 

It seems that Kicking Bird, after visiting Mr. Wykes 
that morning, went immediately to his lodge, and sat 
down to eat something, but just as he had finished a cup 
of coffee, he fell over, dead. He- had in his service a 
Mexican woman, and she had been bribed to poison him. 

An expensive coffin was made at the agency for his 
remains, fashioned out of the finest black walnut to be 
found in the country where that timber grows to such a 
luxuriant extent. It was eight feet long and four feet 
deep, but even then it did not hold one-half of his effects, 
which were, according to the savage custom, interred with 
his bod)-. 

The cries and lamentations of the warriors and women 
of his band were heartrending ; such a manifestation of 
grief was never before witnessed at the agency. A hand- 
some fence was erected around his grave, in the cemetery 
at Fort Sill, and the government ordered a beautiful mar- 
ble monument to be raised over it ; but I do not know 
whether it was ever done. 

Kicking Bird was only forty years old at the time of his 
sudden taking off, and was very wealth)' for an Indian. 
He knew the uses of money and was a careful saver of 



CHARLES BENT 183 

it. A great roll of greenbacks was placed in bis coffin, 
and that fact having leaked out, it was rumoured that 
his grave was robbed; but the story may not have been 
true. 

One of the greatest terrors of the Old Santa Fe Trail 
was the half-breed Indian desperado Charles Bent. His 
mother was a Cheyenne squaw, and his father the famous 
trader, Colonel Bent. He was born at the base of the 
Rocky Mountains, and at a very early age placed in one 
of the best schools that St. Louis afforded. His venerable 
sire, with only a limited education himself, was determined 
that his boy should profit by the culture and refinement 
of civilization, so he was not allowed to return to his 
mountain home at Bent's Fort, and the savage conditions 
under which he was born, until he had attained his ma- 
jority. He then spoke no language but English. His 
mother died while he was absent at school, and his father 
continued to live at the old fort, where Charles, after he 
had reached the age of twenty-one, joined liim. 

Some Washington sentimentalist, philosophizing on the 
Indian character, his knowledge being based on Cooper's 
novels probably, has said : " Civilization has very marked 
effects upon an Indian. If he once learns to speak Eng- 
lish, he will soon forget all his native cunning and pride 
of race." Let us see how this theory worked with Char- 
ley Bent. 

As soon as the educated half-breed set his foot on his 
native heath he readily found enough ambitious young 
bucks of his own age who were willing to look on him as 
their leader. They loved him. too, if such a thing were 
possible, as Fra Diavolo was loved by his wild followers. 
His band was known as the " Dog-Soldiers " ; a sort of a 
semi-military organization, consisting of the most daring, 
blood-thirsty young men of the tribe ; and sometimes 
"squaw-men," that is, renegade white men married to 



184 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

squaws, attached themselves to his command of cut- 
throats. 

At the head of this collection of the worst savages, 
hardly ever numbering over a hundred, Charles Bent 
robbed ranches, attacked wagon-trains, overland coaches, 
and army caravans. He stole and murdered indiscrimi- 
nately. The history of his bloody work will never be 
wholly revealed, for dead men have no tongues. 

He would visit all alone, in the guise of plainsman, 
hunter, or cattleman, the emigrant trains crossing the 
continent, always, however, those which had only small 
escorts or none at all. Feigning hunger, while his needs 
were being kindly furnished, he would glance around him 
to learn what kind of an outfit it was ; its value, its desti- 
nation, and how well guarded. Then he would take his 
leave with many thanks, rejoin his band, and with it dash 
down on the train and kill every human being unfortunate 
enough not to have escaped before he arrived. 

He was indefatigable in his efforts to kill off the whole 
corps of army scouts. He would pass himself off as a 
fellow-scout, as a deserter from some military post, or as 
an Indian trader, for he was a wonderful actor, and would 
have achieved histrionic honours had he chosen the stage 
as a- profession. 

He would always time his actions so as to be found 
apparently asleep by a little camp-fire on the bank of 
Pawnee Fork, Crooked, Mulberry, or Walnut creeks, all 
of which streams intercepted the trails running north 
and south between the several military posts during the 
Indian war, when he would seem delighted and aston- 
ished, or else simulate suspicion. Then he would either 
murder the unsuspecting scout with his own hands, or 
deliver him to the red fiends of his band to be tor- 
mented. 

The government offered a reward of five thousand 



CHARLES BENT 1£5 

dollars for Bent's capture, dead or alive. It was re- 
ported currently that he was at last killed in a battle 
with some deputy United States marshals, and that they 
received the reward ; but the whole thing was manufac- 
tured out of whole cloth, and if the marshals received the 
money, Uncle Sam was most outrageously swindled. 

The facts are that he died of malarial fever superin- 
duced by a wound received in a right with the Kaws, 
near the mouth of the Walnut and not far from Fort 
Zarah. His " Dog-Soldiers " were whipped by the Kaws, 
and his band driven off. Bent lingered for some time 
and died. 




3a!dm 



CHAPTER XI 



NEGLECT OF NEW MEXICO BY THE UNITED STATES GOVERN- 
MENT INTENDED CONQUEST OF THE PROVINCE CONSPIR- 
ACY OF SOUTHERN LEADERS SURRENDER BY GENERAL 

TWIGGS TO THE CONFEDERATE GOVERNMENT OF THE MILI- 
TARY POSTS AND MUNITIONS OF WAR UNDER HIS COMMAND 

ONLY ONE SOLDIER OUT OF TWO THOUSAND DESERTS TO 

THE ENEMY ORGANIZATION OF VOLUNTEERS FOR THE DE- 
FENCE OF COLORADO AND NEW MEXICO BATTLE OF LA 

GLORIETA ROUT OF THE REBELS 



ff/TQoon 



EW MEXICO, at the 

breaking out of the Civil 
War, was abandoned by 
the government at Wash- 
ington, or at least so 
overlooked that the 
charge of neglect was 
merited. In the report of 
the committee' on the Con- 
duct of the War, under 
date of July 15, 1862, Brevet 
Lieutenant-Colonel B. S. Rob- 
erts of the regular army, major 
of the Third Cavalry, who was 
stationed in the Territory in 1861, says : " It appears to 
me to be the determination of General Thomas 1 not to 
acknowledge the service of the officers who saved the 
Territory of New- Mexico; and the utter neglect of the 
1 Lorenzo Thomas, adjutant-general of the United States army. 

180 




LA GLORIETA 187 

adjutant-general's department for the last year to com- 
municate in any waj r with the commanding officer of the 
department of New Mexico, or to answer his urgent ap- 
peals for reinforcements, for money and other supplies, 
in connection with his repudiation of the services of all 
the army there, convinces me that he is not gratified at 
their loyalty and their success in saving that Territory to 
the Union." 

If space could be given to the story of the carefully 
prepared plans of the leaders of secession for the con- 
quest of all the territory south of a line drawn from 
Maryland directly west to the Pacific coast, in which 
were California, Arizona, and New Mexico, it would reveal 
some startling facts, and prove beyond question that it 
was the intention of Jefferson Davis to precipitate the 
rebellion a decade before it actually occurred. The basis 
of the scheme was to inaugurate a war between Texas — 
which, when admitted into the Union, claimed all that 
part of New Mexico east of the Rio Grande — and the 
United States, in which conflict Mississippi and some of 
the other Southern States were to become' participants. 
The plan fell flat, because, in 1851, Mr. Davis failed of a 
re-election to the governorship of Mississippi. 

So confident were many of Mr. Davis' allies in regard 
to the- contemplated rebellion, that they boasted to their 
friends of the North, upon leaving Washington, that when 
they met again, it would be upon a Southern battle-field. 

I have alluded incidentally to what is known as the 
Texas Santa Fe Expedition, inaugurated by the President 
of what was then the republic of Texas, Mirabeau B. 
Lamar. It was given out to the world that it was merely 
one of commercial interest, — to increase the trade be- 
tween the two countries ; but that it was intended for the 
conquest of New Mexico, no one now, in the light of 
history, doubts. It resulted in disaster, and is a story 



188 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

well worthy the examination of the student of American 
politics. 1 

In 1861 General Twiggs commanded the military 
department of which Texas was an important part. It 
will be remembered that he surrendered to the Confeder- 
ate government the troops, the munitions of war, the 
forts, or posts as they were properly termed, and every- 
thing pertaining to the United States army under his 
control. It was the intention of the Confederacy to use 
this region as a military base from which to continue its 
conquests westward, and capture the various forts in 
New Mexico. Particularly they had their eyes upon Fort 
Union, where there was an arsenal, which John B. Floyd, 
Secretary of AVar, had taken especial care to have well 
stocked previously to the act of secession. 

But the conspirators had reckoned without their host ; 
the}' imagined the native Mexicans would eagerly accept 
their overtures, and readily support the Southern Confed- 
eracy. Mr. Davis and his coadjutors had evidently for- 
gotten the effect of the Texas Santa Fe Expedition, in 
1841, upon the people of the Province of New Mexico ; 
but the natives themselves had not. Besides the lo} 7 alty 
of the Mexicans, there was a factor which the Confederate 
leaders had failed to consider, which was that the majority 
of the American pioneers had come from loj'al States. 

Of course, there were many secessionists both in Colo- 
rado and New Mexico who were watching the progress of 
rebellion in eager anticipation ; and it is claimed that in 
Denver a rebel flag was raised — but how true that is I 
do not know. 

John B. Floyd, Secretary of War, was one of the lead- 
ing spirits of the Confederacy. A year before the Civil 
War he placed in command of the department of New 

1 Kendall's Santa Fe Expedition may be found in all the large libra- 
ries. 



LA GLORIETA 189 

Mexico a North Carolinian, Colonel Loring, who was in 
perfect sympathy with his superior, and willing to carry 
out his well-defined plans. In 1861 he ordered Colonel 
G. B. Crittenden on an expedition against the Apaches. 
This officer at once tried to induce his troops to attach 
themselves to the rebel army in Texas, but he was met 
with an indignant refusal by Colonel Roberts and the 
regular soldiers under him. The loyal colonel told Crit- 
tenden, in the most forcible language, that he would resist 
any such attempt on his part, and reported the action of 
Colonel Crittenden to the commander of the department 
at Santa Fe. Of course, Colonel Loring paid no attention 
to the complaint of disloyalty, and then Colonel Roberts 
conveyed the tidings to the commanding officers of several 
military posts in the Territory, whom he knew were true 
to the Union, and only one man out of nearly two thou- 
sand regular soldiers renounced his flag. Some of the 
officers stationed at New Mexico were of a different mind, 
and one of them, Major Lynde, commanding Fort Filmore, 
surrendered to a detachment of Texans, who paroled the 
enlisted men, as they firmly refused to join the rebel forces. 
Upon the desertion of Colonel Loring to the Southern 
Confederacy, General Edward R. S. Canby was assigned 
to the command of the department ; next in rank was 
the loyal Roberts. At this perilous juncture in New 
Mexico, there were but a thousand regulars all told, but 
the Territory furnished two regiments of volunteers, 
commanded by officers whose names had been famous on 
the border for years. Among these was Colonel Ceran 
St. Vrain, who had been conspicuous in the suppression 
of the Mexican insurrection of 1817, fifteen years before. 
Kit Carson was lieutenant-colonel ; J. F. Chaves, major ; 
and the most prominent of the line officers Captain Albert 
H. Pfeiffer, with a record as an Indian fighter equal to 
that of Carson. 



190 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

At the same time Colorado was girding on her armour 
for the impending conflict. The governor of the pros- 
perous Territory was William Gilpin, an old army officer, 
who had spent a large part of his life on the frontier, and 
had accompanied Colonel Doniphan, as major of his regi- 
ment, across the plains, on the expedition to New Mexico 
in 1846. 

Colonel Gilpin at once responded to the pleadings of 
New Mexico .for help, by organizing two companies at 
first, quickly following with a full regiment. This Colo- 
rado regiment was composed of as fine material as any 
portion of the United States could furnish. John P. 
Slough, a war Democrat and a lawyer, was its colonel. 
He afterwards became chief justice of New Mexico, and 
was brutally murdered in that Territory. 

John M. Chivington, a strict Methodist and a presiding 
elder of that church, Avas offered the chaplaincy, but firmly 
declined, and, like many others who wore the clerical garb, 
he quickly doffed it and put on the attire of a soldier; so 
he was made major, and his record as a fighter was equal 
to the best. 

The commanding general knew well the plans of the 
rebels as to their intended occupation of New Mexico, 
and, notwithstanding the weakness of his force, deter- 
mined to frustrate them if within the limits of possibility. 
To that end he concentrated his little army, comprising 
a thousand regular soldiers, the two regiments of New 
Mexico volunteers, two companies of Colorado troops, and 
a portion of the territorial militia, at Fort Craig, on the 
Rio Grande, to await the approach of the Confederate 
troops, under the command of General H. H. Sibley, an 
old regular army officer, a native of Louisiana, and the 
inventor of the comfortable tent named after him. 

Sibley's brigade comprised some three thousand men, 
the majqrity of them Texans, and he expected that 



LA GLOKIETA 191 

many more would flock to his standard as he moved 
northward. On the 19th of February, 1862, he crossed 
the Rio Grande below Fort Craig, not daring to attack 
Canby in his intrenched position. The Union commander, 
in order, to keep the Texas troops from gaining the high 
points overlooking the fort, placed portions of the Fifth, 
Seventh, and Tenth Regulars, together with Carson's and 
Pino's volunteers, on the other side of the river. No 
collision occurred that day, but the next afternoon Major 
Duncan, with his cavalry and Captain M'Rae's light 
battery, having been sent across to reinforce the infantry, 
a heavy artillery fire was immediately opened upon them 
by the Texans. The men under Carson behaved splen- 
didly, but the other volunteer regiments became a little 
demoralized, and the general was compelled to call back 
the force into the fort. Sibley's force, both men and 
animals, suffered much from thirst, the latter stampeding, 
and many, wandering into our lines, were caught by the 
scouts of the Union forces. The next morning early 
Colonel Roberts was ordered to proceed about seven miles 
up the river to keep the Texans away from the water at 
a point where it was alone accessible, on account of the 
steepness of the banks everywhere else. 

The gallant Roberts, on arriving at the ford, planted 
a battery there, and at once opened fire. This was the 
battle of Valverde, the details of which, however, do not 
belong to this book, having been only incidentally referred 
to in order to lead the reader intelligently up to that of 
La Glorieta, Apache Canon, or Pigeon's Ranch, as it is 
indifferently called. 

Valverde was lost to the Union troops, but never did 
men fight more valiantly, with the exception of a few who 
did not act the part of the true soldier. The brave M'Rae 
mounted one of the guns of his battery, choosing to die 
rather than surrender. 



192 THE OLD SANTA FE TEAIL 

General Sibley, after his doubtful victory at Valverde, 
continued on to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The old 
city offered no resistance to his occupation ; in fact, some 
of the most influential Mexicans were pleased, their lean- 
ing being strongly toward the Southern Confederacy ; but 
the common people were as loyal to the Union as those of 
any of the Northern States, a feeling intensified by their 
hatred for the Texans on account of the expedition of 
conquest in 1841, twenty-one years before. They con- 
tributed of their means to aid the United States troops, 
but have never received proper credit for their action in 
those days of trouble in the neglected Territory. 

The Confederate general was disappointed at the way 
in which affairs were going, for he had based great hopes 
upon the defection of the native residents ; but he deter- 
mined to march forward to Fort Union, where his friend 
Floyd had placed such stores as were likely to be needed 
in the campaign which he had designed. 

From Santa Fe to Fort Union, where the arsenal was 
located, the road runs through the deep, rocky gorge known 
as Apache Canon. It is one of the wildest spots in the- 
mountains, the walls on each side rising from one to two 
thousand feet above the Trail, which is within the range 
of ordinary cannon from every point, and in many places 
of point-blank rifle-shot. Granite rocks and sands abound, 
and the hills are covered with long-leafed pine. It is a 
gateway which, in the hands of a skilful engineer and one 
hundred resolute men, can be made perfectly impregnable. 

The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe" Railway passes 
directly through this picturesque chasm, every foot of 
which is classic ground, and in the season of the moun- 
tain freshets constant care is needed to keep its bridges in 
place. 

At its eastern entrance is a large residence, known as 
Pigeon's Ranch, from which the battle to be described 



LA GLORIETA 193 

derives its name, though, as stated, it is also known as 
that of Apache Canon, and La Glorieta, 1 the latter, per- 
haps, the most classical, from the range of mountains 
enclosing the rent in the mighty hills. 

The following detailed account of this battle I have 
taken from the History of Colorado? an admirable work : 
" The sympathizers ■ with and abettors of the South- 
ern Confederacy inaugurated their plans by posting 
handbills in all conspicuous places between Denver and 
the mining-camps, designating certain localities where 
the highest prices would be paid for arms of every de- 
scription, and for powder, lead, shot, and percussion caps. 
Simultaneously, a small force was collected and put under 
discipline to co-operate with parties expected from Arkan- 
sas and Texas who were to take possession, first of Colo- 
rado, and subsequently of New Mexico, anticipating the 
easy capture of the Federal troops and stores "located 
there. Being apprised of the movement, the governor 
immediately decided to enlist a full regiment of volun- 
teers. John P. Slough was appointed colonel, Samuel 
F. Tappan lieutenant-colonel, and John J. M. Chiving- 
ton major. 

" Without railroads or telegraphs nearer than the Mis- 
souri River, and wholly dependent upon the overland 
mail coach for communication with the States and the 
authorities at Washington, news was at least a week 
old when received. Thus the troops passed the time in a 
condition of doubt and extreme anxiety, until the 6th of 
January, 1862, when information arrived that an invading 
force under General H. H. Sibley, from San Antonio, 
Texas, was approaching the southern border of New Mex- 
ico, and had already captured Forts Fillmore and Bliss, 
making prisoners of their garrisons without firing a gun, 
and securing all their stock and supplies. 

1 A summer-house, bower, or arbour. 2 Frank Hall, Chicago, 1885. 



194 THE ULD SANTA FE TRAIL 

" Immediately upon receipt of this intelligence, efforts 
were made to obtain the consent of, or orders from, Gen- 
eral Hunter, commanding the department at Fort Leaven- 
worth, Kansas, for the regiment to go to the relief of 
General Canity, then in command of the department of 
New Mexico. On the 20th of February, orders came 
from General Hunter, directing Colonel Slough and the 
First Regiment of Colorado Volunteers to proceed with all 
possible despatch to Fort Union, or Santa Fe, New Mexico, 
and report to General Canby for service. 

"Two days thereafter, the command marched out of 
Camp Weld two miles up the Platte River, and in 
due time encamped at Pueblo, on the Arkansas River. 
At this point further advices were received from Canby, 
stating that lie had encountered the enemy at Valverde, 
ten miles north of Fort Craig, but, owing to the ineffi- 
ciency of the newly raised New Mexican volunteers, was 
compelled to retire. The Texans under Sibley marched 
on up the Rio Grande, levying tribute upon the inhabi- 
tants for their support. The Colorado troops were urged 
to the greatest possible haste hi reaching Fort Union, 
where they were to unite with such regular troops as 
could be concentrated at that post, and thus aid in sav- 
ing the fort and its supplies from falling into Confed- 
erate hands. Early on the following morning the order 
was given to proceed to Union by forced marches, and it 
is doubtful if the same number of men ever marched a 
like distance in the same length of time. 

" When the summit of Raton Pass was reached, another 
courier from Canby met the command, who informed 
Colonel Slough that the Texans had alread} r captured Al- 
buquerque and Santa Fe with all the troops stationed at 
those places, together with the supplies stored there, and 
that they were then marching on Fort Union. 

" Arriving at Red River about sundown, the regiment 



LA GLORIETA 195 

was drawn up in line and this information imparted to 
the men. The request was then made for all who were 
willing to undertake a forced march at night to step two 
paces to the front, when every man advanced to the new 
alignment. After a hasty supper the march was resumed, 
and at sunrise the next morning they reached Maxwell's 
Ranch on the Cimarron, having made sixty-four miles in 
less than twenty-four hours. At ten o'clock on the sec- 
ond night thereafter, the command entered Fort Union. 
It was there discovered that Colonel Paul, in charge of 
the post, had mined the fort, giving orders for the re- 
moval of the women and children, and was preparing to 
blow up all the supplies and march to Fort Garland or 
some other post to the northward, on the first approach 
of the Confederates. 

"The troops remained at Union from the 13th to the 
22d of March, when by order of Colonel Slough they 
proceeded in the direction of Santa Fe. The command 
consisted of the First Colorado Volunteers ; two Light 
Batteries, one commanded by Captain Ritter and the 
other by Captain Claflin ; Ford's Company of Colorado 
Volunteers unattached ; two companies of the Fifth Reg- 
ular Infantry ; and two companies of the Seventh United 
States Cavalry. 

" The force encamped at Bernal Springs, where Col- 
onel Slough determined to organize a detachment to 
enter Santa Fe by night with the view of surprising the 
enemy, spiking his guns, and after doing what other dam- 
age could be accomplished without bringing on a general 
action, falling back on the main body. The detachment 
chosen comprised sixty men each from Companies A, D, 
and E of the Colorado regiment, with Company F of the 
same mounted, and thirty-seven men each from the com- 
panies of Captains Ford and Howland, and of the Seventh 
Cavalry, the whole commanded by Major Chivington. 



196 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

At sundown on the 25th of March it reached Kosloskie's 
Ranch, where Major Chivington was informed that the 
enemy's pickets were in the vicinity. He went into camp 
at once, and about nine o'clock of the same evening sent 
out Lieutenant Nelson of the First Colorado with thirty 
men of Company F, who captured the Texan pickets while 
they were engaged in a game of cards at Pigeon's Ranch, 
and before daylight on the morning of the 26th, reported 
at camp with his prisoners. After breakfast, the major, 
being apprised of the enemy's whereabouts, proceeded 
cautiously, keeping his advance guard well to the front. 
While passing near the summit of the hill, the officer in 
command of the advance met the Confederate advance, 
consisting of a first lieutenant and thirty men, capt- 
ured them without firing a gun, and returning met the 
main body and turned them over to the commanding 
officer. The Confederate lieutenant declared that they 
had- received no intimation of the advance from Fort 
Union, but themselves expected to be there four days 
later. 

" Descending Apache Canon for the distance of half 
a mile, Chivington's force observed the approaching 
Texans, about six hundred strong, with three pieces of 
artillery, who, on discovering the Federals, halted, formed 
line and battery, and opened fire. 

" Chivington drew up his cavalry as a reserve under 
cover, deployed Company D under Captain Downing to 
the right, and Companies A and E under Captains Wyn- 
koop and Anthony to the left, directing them to ascend 
the mountain-side until they were above the elevation of 
the enemy's artilleiy and thus flank him, at the same time 
directing Captain Howland, he being the ranking cavalry 
officer, to closely observe the enemy, and when he retreated, 
without further orders to charge with the cavalry. This 
disposition of the troops proved wise and successful. The 



LA GLORIETA 197 

Texans soon broke battery and retreated down the canon 
a mile or more, but from some cause Captain Howland 
failed to charge as ordered, which enabled the Confed- 
erates to take up a new and strong position, where they 
formed battery, threw their supports well up the sides of 
the mountain, and again opened fire. 

" Chivington dismounted Captains Howland and Lord 
with their regulars, leaving their horses in charge of 
every fourth man, and ordered them to join Captain Down- 
ing on the left, taking orders from him. Our skirmishers 
advanced, and, flanking the enemy's supjiorts, drove them 
pell-mell down the mountain-side, when Captain Samuel 
Cook, with Company F, First Colorado, having been 
signalled \>y the major, made as gallant and successful a 
charge through the canon, through the ranks of the 
Confederates and back, as was ever performed. Mean- 
while, our infantry advanced rapidly ; when the enemy 
commenced his retreat a second time, they were well 
ahead of him on the mountain-sides and poured a gall- 
ing fire into him, which thoroughly demoralized and 
broke him up, compelling the entire body to seek shelter 
among the rocks down the canon and in some cabins that 
stood by the wayside. 

" After an hour spent in collecting the prisoners, and 
caring for the wounded, both Federal and Confederate, 
the latter having left in killed, wounded, and prisoners a 
number equal to our whole force in the field, the first 
baptism by fire of our volunteers terminated. The vic- 
tory was decided and complete. Night intervening, and 
there being no water in the canon, the little command fell 
back to Pigeon's Ranch, whence a courier was despatched 
to Colonel Slough, advising him of the engagement and its 
result, and requesting him to bring forward the main com- 
mand as rapidly as possible, as the enemy with all his 
forces had moved from Santa Fe toward Fort Union. 



198 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

" After interring the dead and making a comfortable 
hospital for the wounded, on the afternoon of the 27th 
Chivington fell back to the Pecos River at Kosloskie's 
Ranch and encamped. On receiving the news from 
Apache Canon, Colonel Slough put his forces in motion, 
and at eleven o'clock at night of the 27th joined Chiving- 
ton at Kosloskie's. 

" At daybreak on the 28th, the assembly was sounded, 
and the entire command resumed its march. Five miles 
out from their encampment Major Chivington, in command 
of a detachment composed of Companies A, B, H, and E 
of the First Colorado, and Captain Ford's Company un- 
attached, with Captain Lewis' Company of the Fifth 
Regular Infantry, was ordered to take the Galisteo road, 
and by a detour through the mountains to gain the 
enemy's rear, if possible, at the west end of Apache 
Canon, while Slough advanced slowly with the main 
body to gain his front about the same time ; thus devising 
an attack in front and rear. ■ 

" About ten o'clock, while making his way through the 
scrub pine and cedar brush in the mountains, Major Chiv- 
ington and his command heard cannonading to'their right, 
and were thereby apprised that Colonel Slough and his 
men had met the enemy. About twelve o'clock he 
arrived with his men on the summit of the mountain 
which overlooked the enemy's supply wagons, which had 
been left in the charge of a strong guard with one piece 
of artillery mounted on an elevation commanding the 
camp and mouth of the canon. With great difficulty 
Chivington descended the precipitous mountain, charged, 
took, and spiked the gun, ran together the enemy's supply 
wagons of commissary, quartermaster, and ordnance 
stores, set them on fire, blew and burnt them up, bayo- 
neted his mules in corral, took the guard prisoners and 
reascended the mountain, where about dark he was met 



LA GLORIETA 199 

by Lieutenant Cobb, aide-de-camp on Colonel Slough's 
staff, with the information that Slough and his men had 
been defeated and had fallen back to Kosloskie's. Upon 
the supposition that this information was correct, Chiv- 
ington, under the guidance of a French Catholic priest, 
in the intensest darkness, with great difficulty made his 
wa3 r with his command through the mountains without a 
road or trail, and joined Colonel Slough about midnight. 

" Meanwhile, after Chivington and his detachment had 
left in the morning, Colonel Slough with the main body 
proceeded up the canon, and arriving at Pigeon's Ranch, 
gave orders for the troops to stack arms in the road and 
supply their canteens with water, as that would be the 
last opportunity before reaching the further end of 
Apache Canon. While thus supplying themselves with 
water and visiting the wounded in the hospital at Pigeon's 
Ranch, being entirely off their guard, they were suddenly 
startled by a courier from the advance column dashing 
down the road at full speed and informing them that the 
enemy was close at hand. Orders were immediately given 
to fall in and take arms, but before the order could be 
obeyed the enemy had formed battery and commenced 
shelling them. They formed as quickly as possible, the 
colonel ordering Captain Downing with Company D, 
First Colorado Volunteers, to advance on the left, and 
Captain Kerber with Company I First Colorado, to ad- 
vance on the right. In the meantime Ritter and Claflin 
opened a return fire on the enemy with their batteries. 
Captain Downing advanced and fought desperately, meet- 
ing a largely superior force in point of numbers, until he 
was almost overpowered and surrounded ; when, happily, 
Captain Wilder of Company G of the First Colorado, 
with a detachment of his command, came to his relief, and 
extricated him and that portion of his Compan} 1- not al- 
ready slaughtered. While on the opposite side, the right, 



200 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Company I had advanced into an open space, feeling the 
enemy, and ambitious of capturing his battery, when they 
were surprised by a detachment which was concealed in 
an arroya, and which, when Kerber and his men were 
within forty feet of it, opened a galling fire upon them. 
Kerber lost heavily ; Lieutenant Baker, being wounded, 
fell back. In the meantime the enemy masked, and made 
five successive charges on our batteries, determined to 
capture them as they had captured Canby's at Valverde. 
At one time they were within forty yards of Slough's bat- 
teries, their slouch hats drawn down over their faces, and 
rushing on with deafening yells. It seemed inevitable 
that they would make the capture, when Captain Claflin 
gave the order to cease firing, and Captain Samuel Rob- 
bins with his company, K of the First Colorado, arose 
from the ground like ghosts, delivering a galling fire, 
charged bayonets, and on the double-quick put the rebels 
to flight. 

" During the whole of this time the cavalry, under Cap- 
tain Howland, were held in reserve, never moving except 
to fall back and keep out of danger, with the exception of 
Captain Cook's men, who dismounted and fought as in- 
fantry. From the opening of the battle to its close the 
odds were against Colonel Slough and his forces ; the 
enemy being greatly superior in numbers, with a better 
armament of artillery and equally well armed otherwise. 
But every inch of ground was stubbornly contested. In 
no instance did Slough's forces fall back until they were 
in danger of being flanked and surrounded, and for nine 
hours, without rest or refreshment, the battle raged inces- 
santly. At one time Claflin gave orders to double-shot 
his guns, they being nothing but little brass how- 
itzers, and he counted, ' One, two, three, four,' until one 
of his own carriages capsized and fell down into the 
gulch ; from which place Captain Samuel Robbins and 



LA GLORIETA 



201 



his company, K, extricated it and saved it from falling 
into the enemy's hands. 

" Having been compelled to give ground all day, Colonel 
Slough, between five and six o'clock in the afternoon, 
issued orders to retreat. About the same time General 
Sibley received information from the rear of the destruc- 
tion of his supply trains, and ordered a flag of truce to be 
sent to Colonel Slough, which did not reach him, however, 
until he arrived at Kosloskie's. A truce was entered into 
until nine o'clock the next morning, which was afterward 
extended to twenty-four hours, and under which Sibley 
with his demoralized forces fell back to Santa Fe, laying 
that town under tribute to supply his forces. 

" The 29th was spent in burying the dead, as Avell as 
those of the Confederates which they left on the field, and 
caring for the wounded. Orders were received from Gen- 
eral Canby directing Colonel Slough to fall back to Fort 
Union, which so incensed him that while obeying the order 
he forwarded his resignation, and soon after left the com- 
mand." 

Thus ended the battle of La Glorieta. 




ylpacfc Grnon v 



CHAPTER XII 1 

THE ANCIENT RANGE OF THE BUFFALO NUMBER SLAUGH- 
TERED IN THIRTEEN YEARS FOR THEIR ROBES ALONE 

BUFFALO BONES TRAINS STOPPED BY VAST HERDS CUS- 
TOM OF OLD HUNTERS WHEN CAUGHT IN A BLIZZARD AN- 
ECDOTES OF BUFFALO HUNTING KIT CARSON'S DILEMMA 

EXPERIENCE OF TWO OF FREMONT'S HUNTERS WOUNDED 

BUFFALO BULL o'NEIL's LAUGHABLE EXPERIENCE OR- 
GANIZATION OF A HERD OF BUFFALO STAMPEDES 

THRILLING ESCAPES 



Buffd/o jf7?0! "j^m^mH^. 1^^ ancient range of the 

buffalo, according to his- 
tory and tradition, once 
extended from the Alle- 
ghanies to the Rocky 
Mountains, embracing all 
that magnificent portion 
of North America known as the 
Mississippi valley ; from the frozen 
lakes above to the " Tierras Cali- 
entes " of Mexico, far to the 
south. 

It seems impossible, espe- 
^j^^;' cially to those who have 

%fMM)l\ seen them, as numerous, 
apparently, as the sands 
of the seashore, feeding on the illimitable natural past- 

1 The greater portion of this chapter I originally wrote for Harper's 
Weekly. By the kind permission of the publishers, I am permitted to use 
it here. 

202 




THE BUFFALO 203 

ures of the great plains, that the buffalo should have 
become almost extinct. 

When I look back only twenty -five years, and recall 
the fact that they roamed in immense numbers even then, 
as far east as Fort Harker, in Central Kansas, a little more 
than two hundred miles from the Missouri River, I ask 
myself, " Have they all disappeared?" 

An idea may be formed of how many buffalo were killed 
from 1868 to 1881, a period of only thirteen years, during 
which time they were indiscriminately slaughtered for 
their hides. In Kansas alone there was paid out, between 
the dates specified, two million five hundred thousand dollars 
for their bones gathered on the prairies, to be utilized by 
the various carbon works of the country, principally in 
St. Louis. It required about one hundred carcasses to 
make one ton of bones, the price paid averaging eight dol- 
lars a ton ; so the above-quoted enormous sum represented 
the skeletons of over thirty-one millions of buffalo. 1 These 
figures may appear preposterous to readers not familiar with 
the great plains a third of a century ago ; but to those who 
have seen the prairie black from horizon to horizon with 
the shaggy monsters, they are not so. In the autumn of 
1868 I rode with Generals Sheridan, Custer, Sully, and 
others, for three consecutive days, through one contin- 
uous herd, which must have contained millions. In the 
spring of 1869 the train on the Kansas Pacific Railroad 
was delayed at a point between Forts Harker and Hays, 
from nine o'clock in the morning until five in the after- 
noon, in consequence of the passage of an immense herd of 
buffalo across the track. On each side of us, and to the 

1 These statistics I have carefully gathered from the freight departments 
of the railroads, which kept a record of all the bones that were shipped, 
and from the purchasers of the carbon works, who paid out the money at 
various points. Some of the bones, however, may have been on the 
ground for a longer time, as decay is very slow in the dry air of the 
plains. 



204 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

west as far as we could see, our vision was only limited by 
the extended horizon of the fiat prairie, and the whole 
vast area was black with the surging mass of affrighted 
buffaloes as they rushed onward to the south. 

In 1868 the Union Pacific Railroad and its branch in 
Kansas was nearly completed across the plains to the foot- 
hills of the Rocky Mountains, the western limit of the 
buffalo range, and that year witnessed the beginning of 
the wholesale and wanton slaughter of the great rumi- 
nants, which ended only with their practical extinction 
seventeen years afterward. The causes of this hecatomb 
of animals on the great plains were the incursion of regular 
hunters into the region, for -the hides of the buffalo, and 
the crowds of tourists who crossed the continent for the 
mere pleasure and novelty of the trip. The latter class 
heartlessly killed for the excitement of the new experi- 
ence as they rode along in the cars at a low rate of speed, 
often never touching a particle of the flesh of their vic- 
tims, or possessing themselves of a single robe. The 
former, numbering hundreds of old frontiersmen, all ex- 
pert shots, with thousands of novices, the pioneer settlers 
on the public domain, just opened under the various land 
laws, from beyond the Platte to far south of the Arkansas, 
within transporting distance of two railroads, day after 
day for years made it a lucrative business to kill for the 
robes alone, a market for which had suddenly sprung up 
all over the country. 

On either side of the track of the two lines of rail- 
roads running through Kansas and Nebraska, within a 
relatively short distance and for nearly their whole length, 
the most conspicuous objects in those days were the 
desiccated carcasses of the noble beasts that had been 
ruthlessly slaughtered by the thoughtless and excited 
passengers on their way across the continent. On the open 
prairie, too, miles away from the course of legitimate 



THE BUFFALO 205 

travel, in some places one could walk all day on the dead 
bodies of the buffaloes killed by the hide-hunters, with- 
out stepping off them to the ground. 

The best robes, in their relation to thickness of fur and 
lustre, were those taken during the winter months, partic- 
ularly February, at which period the maximum of density 
and beauty had been reached. Then, notwithstanding 
the sudden and fitful variations of temperature incident 
to our mid-continent climate, the old hunters were espe- 
cially active, and accepted unusual risks to procure as 
many of the coveted skins as possible. A temporary 
camp would be established under the friendly shelter of 
some timbered stream, from which the hunters would 
radiate every morning, and return at night after an ar- 
duous day's work, to smoke their pipes and relate their 
varied adventures around the fire of blazing logs. 

Sometimes when far aAvay from camp a blizzard would 
come down from the north in all its fury without ten 
minutes' warning, and in a few seconds the air, full of 
blinding snow, precluded the possibility of finding their 
shelter, an attempt at which would only result in an 
aimless circular march on the prairie. On such occasions, 
to keep from perishing by the intense cold, they would 
kill a buffalo, and, taking out its viscera, creep inside the 
huge cavity, enough animal heat being retained until the 
storm had sufficiently abated for them to proceed with 
safety to their camp. 

Early in March, 1867, a party of my friends, all old 
buffalo hunters, were camped in Paradise valley, then a 
. famous rendezvous of the animals they were after. One 
day when out on the range stalking, and widely separated 
from each other, a terrible blizzard came up. Three of 
the hunters reached their camp without much difficulty, 
but he who was farthest away was fairly caught in it, 
and night overtaking him, he was compelled to resort to 



206 



THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 



the method described in the preceding paragraph. Luck- 
ily, he soon came up with a superannuated bull that had 
been abandoned by the herd; so he killed him, took out 
his viscera and crawled inside the empty carcass, where 
he lay comparatively comfortable until morning broke, 

when the storm had passed over 
and the sun shone brightly. 
But when he attempted to get 
out, he found himself a prisoner, 
the immense ribs of the creature 
having frozen together, and 
locked him up as tightly as if 
he were in a cell. Fortunately, 
his companions, who were search- 
ing for him, and firing their 
rifles from time to time, heard 
him yell in response to the dis- 
charge of their pieces, and thus 
discovered and released him 
from the peculiar predicament 
into which he had fallen. 

At another time, several years 
before the acquisition of New 
Mexico by the United 
-t j- States, two old trappers 
"S^jf" were far up on the Arkan- 

An Old-time Hunter sas near the Trail, in the 

foot-hills hunting buffalo, 
and they, as is generally the case, became separated. In an 
hour or two one of them killed a fat young cow, and, leav- 
ing his rifle on the ground, went up and commenced to skin 
her. While busily engaged in his work, he suddenly heard 
right behind him a suppressed snort, and looking around 
he saw to his dismay a monstrous grizzly ambling along in 
that animal's characteristic gait, within a few feet of him. 




THE BUFFALO 207 

In front, only a few rods away, there happened to be a 
clump of scrubby pines, and he incontinently made a 
break for them, climbing into the tallest in less time than 
it takes to tell of it. The bear deliberately ate a hearty 
meal off the juicy hams of the cow, so providentially fal- 
len in his way, and when he had satiated himself, instead 
of going away, he quietly stretched himself alongside of the 
half-devoured carcass, and went to sleep, keeping one eye 
open, however, on the movements of the unlucky hunter 
whom he had corralled in the tree. In the early evening 
his partner came to the spot, and killed the impudent bear, 
that, being full of _ tender buffalo meat, was sluggish and 
unwary, and thus became an easy victim to the unerring 
rifle ; when the unwilling prisoner came down from his 
perch in the pine, feeling sheepish enough. The last time 
I saw him he told me he still had the bear's hide, which 
he religiously preserved as a memento of his foolishness 
in separating himself from his rifle, a thing he has never 
been guilty of before or since. 

Kit Carson, when with Fremont on his first exploring 
expedition, while hunting for the command, at some point 
on the Arkansas, left a buffalo which he had just killed 
and partly cut up, to pursue a large bull that came rush- 
ing by him alone. He chased his game for nearly a quar- 
ter of a mile, not being able, however, to gain on it rap- 
idly, owing to the blown condition of his horse. Coming 
up at length to the side of the fleeing beast, Carson fired, 
but at the same instant his horse stepped into a prairie- 
dog hole, fell clown and threw Kit fully fifteen feet over 
his head. The bullet struck the buffalo low under the 
shoulder, which only served to enrage him so that the 
next moment the infuriated animal was pursuing Kit, 
who, fortunately not much hurt, was able to run toward 
the river. It was a race for life now, Carson using his 
nimble legs to the utmost of their capacity, accelerated 



208 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

very much by the thundering, bellowing bull bringing 
up the rear. For several minutes it was nip and tuck 
which should reach the stream first, but Kit got there 
by a scratch a little ahead. It was a big bend of the 
river, and the water was deep under the bank, but it was 
paradise compared with the hades plunging at his back ; 
so Kit leaped into the water, trusting to Providence that 
the bull would not follow. The trust was well placed, for 
the bull did not continue the pursuit, but stood on the 
bank and shook his head vehemently at the struggling 
hunter who had preferred deep waves to the horns of a 
dilemma on shore. 

Kit swam around for some time, carefully guarded by 
the bull, until his position was observed by one of his 
companions, who attacked the belligerent animal success- 
fully with a forty-four slug, and then Kit crawled out 
and — skinned the enemy! 

He once killed five buffaloes during a single race, 
and used but four balls,- having dismounted and cut 
the bullet from the wound of the fourth, and thus con- 
tinued the chase. He it was, too, who established his 
reputation as a famous hunter by shooting a buffalo cow 
during an impetuous race down a steep hill, discharging 
his rifle just as the animal was leaping on one of the low 
cedars peculiar to the region. The ball struck a vital 
spot, and the dead cow remained in the jagged branches. 
The Indians who were with him on that hunt looked upon 
the circumstance as something beyond their comprehen- 
sion, and insisted that Kit should leave the carcass in the 
tree as "Big Medicine." Katzatoa (Smoked Shield), a 
celebrated chief of the Kiowas many years ago, who was 
over seven feet tall, never mounted a horse when hunting 
the buffalo ; he always ran after them on foot and killed 
them with his lance. 

Two Lance, another famous chief, could shoot an arrow 



210 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

surprise, when, to their great consternation, they beheld 
the whole company of the monsters, numbering several 
thousand, suddenly shape their course to where the riding 
animals were picketed. The charge of the stampeded 
buffalo was a magnificent one ; for the buffalo, mistak- 
ing the horse and the mule for two of their own species, 
came down upon them like a tornado. A small cloud 
of dust arose for a moment over the spot where the hun- 
ter's animals had been left ; the black mass moved on 
with accelerated speed, and in a few seconds the hori- 
zon shut them all from view. The horse and mule, 
with all their trappings, saddles, bridles, and holsters, 
were never seen or heard of afterward. 

Buffalo Bill, in less than eighteen months, while em- 
ployed as hunter of the construction company of the 
Kansas Pacific Railroad, in 1867-68, killed nearly five 
thousand buffalo, which were consumed hy the twelve 
hundred men employed in track-laying. He tells in his 
autobiography of the following remarkable experience he 
had at one time with his favourite horse Brigham, on an 
impromptu buffalo hunt : — 

" One day we were pushed for horses to work on our 
scrapers, so I hitched up Brigham, to see how he would 
work. He was not much used to that kind of labour, and 
I was about giving up the idea of making a work horse of 
him, when one of the men called to me that there were 
some buffaloes coining over the hill. As there had been 
no buffaloes seen anywhere in the vicinity of the camp for 
several days, we had become rather short of meat. I im- 
mediately told one of our men to hitch his horses to a 
wagon and follow me, as I was going out after the herd, 
and Ave would bring back some fresh meat for supper. I 
had no saddle, as mine had been left at camp a mile dis- 
tant, so taking the harness from Brigham I mounted him 
bareback, and started out after the game, being armed with 



THE BUFFALO 211 

my celebrated buffalo' killer Lucretia Borgia, — a, newly 
improved breech-loading needle-gun, which I had obtained 
from the government. 

" While I was riding toward the buffaloes, I observed 
five horsemen coming out from the fort, who had evi- 
dently seen the buffaloes from the post, and were going 
out for a chase. They proved to be some newly arrived 
officers in that part of the country, and when they came 
up closer I could see by the shoulder-straps that the 
senior was a captain, while the others were lieutenants. 

" ' Hello ! my friend,' sang out the captain ; ' I see you 
are after the same game we are.' 

" ' Yes, sir ; I saw those buffaloes coming over the hill, 
and as we were about out of fresh meat I thought I would 
go and get some,' said I. 

" They scanned my cheap-looking outfit pretty closely, 
and as my horse was not very prepossessing in appearance, 
having on only a blind bridle, and otherwise looking like 
a work horse, they evidently considered me a green hand 
at hunting. 

" ' Do you expect to catch those buffaloes on that Gothic 
steed ? ' laughingly asked the captain. 

" ' I hope so, by pushing on the reins hard enough,' was 
my reply. 

" ' You'll never catch them in the world, my fine fellow,' 
said the captain. ' It requires a fast horse to overtake 
the animals on the prairie.' 

" ' Does it ? ' asked I, as if I didn't know it. 

" i Yes; but come along with us, as we are going to kill 
them more for pleasure than anything else. All we want 
are the tongues and a piece of tenderloin, and you may 
have all that is left, : said the generous man. 

" ' I am much obliged to you, captain, and will follow 
you,' I replied. 

" There were eleven buffaloes in the herd, and they 



212 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

were not more than a mile ahead of us. The officers 
dashed on as if they had a sure thing on killing them all 
before I could come up with them ; but I had noticed 
that the herd was making toward the creek for water, 
and as I knew buffalo nature, I was perfectly aware that 
it would be difficult to turn them from their direct course. 
Thereupon, I started toward the creek , to head them off, 
while the officers came up in the rear and gave chase. 

"The buffaloes came rushing past me not a hundred 
yards distant, with the officers about three hundred yards 
in the rear. Now, thought' I, is the time to ' get my work 
in,' as they say ; and I pulled off the blind bridle from my 
horse, who knew as well as I did that we were out after 
buffaloes, as he was a trained hunter. The moment the 
bridle was off he started at the top of his speed, running 
in ahead of the officers, and with a few jumps he brought 
me alongside the rear buffalo. Raising old Lucretia 
Borgia to my shoulder, I fired, and killed the animal at 
the first shot. My horse then carried me alongside the 
next one, not ten feet away, and I dropped him at the 
next fire. 

" As soon as one of the buffalo would fall, Brigham 
would take me so close to the next that I could almost 
touch it with my gun. In this manner I killed the eleven 
buffaloes with twelve shots ; and as the last animal 
dropped, my horse stopped. I jumped off to the ground, 
knowing that he would not leave me, — it must be re- 
membered that I had been riding him without bridle, 
reins, or saddle, — and, turning around as the party of 
astonished officers rode up, I said to them : — 

" ' Now, gentlemen, allow me to present to you all the 
tongues and tenderloins you wish from these buffaloes.' 

" Captain Graham, for such I soon learned was his 
name, replied : ' Well, I never saw the like before. 
Who under the sun are you, anyhow ? ' 



THE BUFFALO 21ii 

" ' My name is Cod}',' said I. 

" Captain Graham, who was considerable of a horse- 
man, greatly admired Brigham, and said : ' That horse 
of yours has running points.' 

" ' Yes, sir ; he has not only got the points, he is a 
runner and knows how to use the points,' said I. 

" ' So I noticed,' said the captain. 

" They all finally dismounted, and we continued chat- 
ting for some little time upon the different subjects oi 
horses, buffaloes, hunting, and Indians. They felt a little 
sore at not getting a single shot at the buffaloes ; but the 
way I had killed them, they said, amply repaid them for 
their disappointment. They had read of such feats in 
books, but this was the first time they had ever seen any- 
thing of the kind with their own eyes. It was the first 
time, also, that they had ever witnessed or heard of a 
white man running buffaloes on horseback without a 
saddle or bridle. 

" I told them that Brigham knew nearly as much about 
the business as I did, and if I had twenty bridles they 
would have been of no use to me, as he understood every- 
thing, and all that he expected of me was to do the shoot- 
ing. It is a fact that Brigham would stop if a buffalo did 
not fall at the first fire, so as to give me a second chance ; 
but if I did not kill the animal then, he would go on, as 
if to say, ' You are no good, and I will not fool away my 
time by giving you more than two shots.' Brigham was 
the best horse I ever saw or owned for buffalo chasing." 

At one time an old, experienced buffalo hunter was 
following at the heels of a small herd with that reckless 
rush to which in the excitement of the chase men aban- 
don themselves, when a great bull just in front of him 
tumbled into a ravine. The rider's horse fell also, throw- 
ing the old hunter over his head sprawling, but with 
strange accuracy right between the bull's horns ! The 



214 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

first to recover from the terrible shock and to regain his 
legs was the horse, which ran off with wonderful alacrity 
several miles before he stopped. Next the bull rose, and 
shook himself with an astonished air, as if he would like 
to know "how that was done?" The hunter was on the 
great brute's back, who, perhaps, took the affair as a good 
practical joke ; but he was soon pitched to the ground, as 
the buffalo commenced to jump " stiff-legged," and the 
fetter, giving the hunter one lingering look, which he 
long remembered, with remarkable good nature ran off 
to join his companions. Had the bull been wounded, 
the rider would have been killed, as the then enraged 
animal would have gored and trampled him to death. 

An officer of the old regular army told me many years 
ago that in crossing the plains a herd of buffalo were 
fired at by a twelve-pound howitzer, the ball of which 
wounded and stunned an immense bull. Nevertheless, 
heedless of a hundred shots that had been fired at him, 
and of a bulldog belonging to one of the officers, which 
had fastened himself to his lips, the enraged beast charged 
upon the whole troop of dragoons, and tossed one of the 
horses like a feather. Bull, horse, and rider all fell in a 
heap. Before the dust cleared away, the trooper, who had 
hung for a moment to one of the bull's horns by his waist- 
band, crawled out safe, while the horse got a ball from a 
rifle through his neck wdrile in the air and two great rips 
in his flank from the bull. 

In 1839 Kit Carson and Hobbs were trapping with a 
party on the Arkansas River, not far from Bent's Fort. 
Among the trappers was a green Irishman, named O'Neil, 
who was quite anxious to become proficient in limiting, 
and it was not long before he received his first lesson. 
Every man who went out of camp after game was ex- 
pected to bring in " meat " of some kind. O'Neil said 
that he would agree to the terms, and was ready one 



THE BUFFALO 215 

evening to start out on his first hunt alone. He picked 
up his rifle and stalked after a small herd of buffalo in 
plain sight on the prairie not more than five or six 
hundred yards from camp. 

All the trappers who were not engaged in setting their 
traps or cooking supper were watching 0"Neil. Presently 
they heard the report of his rifle, and shortly after he came 
running into camp, bareheaded, without his gun, and with 
a buffalo bull close upon his heels ; both going at full 
speed, and the Irishman shouting like a madman, — 

" Here we come, by jabers. Stop us ! For the love of 
God, stop us ! " 

Just as they came in among the tents, with the bull 
not more than six feet in the rear of O'Neil, who was 
frightened out of his wits and puffing like a locomotive, 
his foot caught in a tent-rope, and over he went into a 
puddle of water head foremost, and in his fall capsized 
several camp-kettles, some of which contained the trap- 
pers' supper. But the buffalo did not escape so easily ; 
for Hobbs and Kit Carson jumped for their rifles, and 
dropped the animal before he had done any further 
damage. 

The whole outfit laughed heartily at O'Neil when he 
got up out of the water, for a party of old trappers would 
show no mercy to any of their companions who met with 
a mishap of that character ; but as he stood there with 
dripping clothes and face covered with mud, his mother- 
wit came to his relief and he declared he had accomplished 
the hunter's task : "For sure," said he, "haven't I fetched 
the mate into camp? and there was no bargain whether 
it should be dead or alive ! " 

Upon Kit's asking O'Neil where his gun was, — 

" Sure," said he, "that's more than I can tell you." 

Next morning Carson and Hobbs took up O'Neil's 
tracks and the buffalo's, and after hunting an hour or 



216 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

so found the Irishman's rifle, though he had little use for 
it afterward, as he preferred to cook and help around camp 
rather than expose his precious life fighting buffaloes. 

A great herd of buffaloes on the plains in the early- 
days, when one could approach near enough without dis- 
turbing it to quietly watch its organization and the ap- 
parent discipline which its leaders seemed to exact, was 
a very curious sight. Among the striking features of the 
spectacle was the ajiparently uniform manner in which the 
immense mass of shaggy animals moved ; there was con- 
stancy of action indicating a degree of intelligence to be 
found only in the most intelligent of the brute creation. 
Frequently the single herd was broken up into many 
smaller ones, that travelled relatively close together, each 
led by an independent master. Perhaps a few rods only 
marked the dividing-line between them, but it was always 
unmistakably plain, and each moved sjmchronously in the 
direction in which all were going. 

The leadership of a herd was attained only by hard 
struggles for the place ; once reached, however, the victor 
was immediately recognized, and kept his authority until 
some new aspirant overcame him, or he became super- 
annuated and was driven out of the herd to meet his 
inevitable fate, a prey, to those ghouls of the desert, the 
gray wolves. 

In the event of a stampede, every animal of the sepa- 
rate, yet consolidated, herds rushed off together, as if they 
had all gone mad at once ; for the buffalo, like the Texas 
steer, mule, or domestic horse, stampedes on the slightest 
provocation ; frequently without any assignable cause. 
The simplest affair, sometimes, will start the whole herd ; 
a prairie-dog barking at the entrance to his burrow, a 
shadow of one of themselves or that of a passing cloud, 
is sufficient to make them run for miles as if a real and 
dangerous enemy were at their heels. 



THE BUFFALO 217 

Like an army, a herd of buffaloes put out vedettes to 
give the alarm in case anything beyond the ordinary 
occurred. These sentinels were always to be seen in 
groups of four, five, or even six, at some distance from 
the main body. When they perceived something ap- 
proaching that the herd should beware of or get away 
from, they started on a run directly for the centre of the 
great mass of their peacefully grazing congeners. Mean- 
while, the young bulls were on duty as sentinels on the 
edge of the main herd watching the vedettes ; the mo- 
ment the latter made for the centre, the former raised 
their heads, and in the peculiar manner of their spe- 
cies gazed all around and sniffed the air as if they could 
smell both the direction and source of the impending 
danger. Should there be something which their instinct 
told them to guard against, the leader took his position 
in front, the cows and calves crowded in the centre, 
while the rest of the males gathered on the flanks and in 
the rear, indicating a gallantry that might be emulated 
at times by the genus homo. 

Generally "buffalo went to their drinking-places but once 
a day, and that late in the afternoon. Then they ambled 
along, following each other in single file, which accounts 
for the many trails on the plains, always ending at some 
stream or lake. They frequently travelled twenty or 
thirty miles for water, so the trails leading to it were 
often worn to the depth of a foot or more. 

That curious depression so frequently seen on the great 
plains, called a buffalo-wallow, is caused in this wise : 
The huge animals paw and lick the salty, alkaline earth, and 
when once the sod is broken the loose dirt drifts away 
under the constant action of the wind. Then, year after 
year, through more pawing, licking, rolling, and wallow- 
ing by the animals, the wind wafts more of the soil away, 
and soon there is a considerable hole in the prairie. 



218 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Many an old trapper and hunter's life has been saved 
by following a buffalo-trail when he was suffering from 
thirst. The buffalo-wallows retain usually a great quan- 
tity of water, and they have often saved the lives of whole 
companies of cavalry, both men and horses. 

There was, however, a stranger and more wonderful 
spectacle to be seen every recurring spring during the 
reign of the buffalo, soon after the grass had started. 
There were circles trodden bare on the plains, thousands, 
yes, millions of them, which the early travellers, who did 
not divine their cause, called fairy-rings. From the first 
of April until the middle of May was the wet season ; 
you could depend upon its recurrence almost as certainly 
as on the sun and moon rising at their proper time. This 
was also the calving period of the buffalo, as they, un- 
like our domestic cattle, only rutted during a single 
month ; consequently, the cows all calved during a cer- 
tain time ; this was the wet month, and as there were a 
great many gray wolves that roamed singly and in im- 
mense packs over the whole prairie region, the bulls, in 
their regular beats, kept guard over the cows while in 
the act of parturition, and drove the wolves away, walk- 
ing in a ring around the females at a short distance, and 
thus forming the curious circles. 

In every herd at each recurring season there were al- 
ways ambitious young bulls that came to their majority, 
so to speak, and these were ever read} r to test their claims 
for the leadership, so that it may be safely stated that a 
month rarely passed without a bloody battle between them 
for the supremacy ; though, strangely enough, the struggle 
scarcely ever resulted in the death of either combatant. 

Perhaps there is no animal in which maternal love is so 
wonderfully developed as the buffalo cow ; she is as dan- 
gerous with a calf by her side as a she-grizzly with cubs, 
as all old mountaineers know. 



THE BUFFALO 219 

The buffalo bull that has outlived his usefulness is one 
of the most pitiable objects in the whole range of natural 
history. Old age has probably been decided in the econ- 
omy of buffalo life as the unpardonable sin. Abandoned 
to his fate, he may be discovered, in his dreary isolation, 
near some stream or lake, where it does not tax him too 
severely to find good grass ; for he is now feeble, and ex- 
ertion an impossibility. In this new stage of his existence 
he seems to have completely lost, his courage. Frightened 
at his own shadow, or the rustling of a leaf, he is the 
very incarnation of nervousness and susjficion. Grega- 
rious in his habits from birth, solitude, foreign to his whole 
nature, has changed him into a new creature; and his in- 
herent terror of the most trivial things is intensified to 
such a degree that if a man were compelled to undergo 
such constant alarm, it would probably drive him insane in 
less than a week. Nobody ever saw one of these mis- 
erable and helplessly forlorn creatures dj'ing a natural 
death, or ever heard of such an occurrence. The cowardly 
coyote and the gray wolf had already marked him for 
their own ; and they rarely missed their calculations. 

Riding suddenly to the top of a divide once with a party 
of friends in 1866, we saw standing belpw us in the val- 
ley an old buffalo bull, the very picture of despair. Sur- 
rounding him were seven gray wolves in the act of 
challenging him to mortal combat. The poor beast, un- 
doubtedly realizing the utter hopelessness of his situation, 
had determined to die game. His great shaggy head, 
filled with burrs, was lowered to the ground as he con- 
fronted his would-be executioners ; his tongue, black and 
parched, lolled out of his mouth, and he gave utterance 
at intervals to a. suppressed roar. 

The wolves were sitting on their haunches in a semi- 
circle immediately in front of the tortured beast, and every 
time that the fear-stricken buffalo would give vent to his 



220 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

hoarsely modulated groan, the wolves howled in concert 
in most mournful cadence. 

After contemplating his antagonists for a few moments, 
the bull made a dash at the nearest wolf, tumbling him 
howling over the silent prairie ; but while this diversion 
was going on in front, the remainder of the pack started 
for his hind legs, to hamstring him. Upon this the jjoor 
brute turned to the point of attack oidy to receive a repe- 
tition of it in the same vulnerable place by the wolves, 
who had as quickly turned also and fastened themselves- 
on his heels again. His hind quarters now streamed with 
blood and he began to show signs of great pli3'sical weak- 
ness. He did not dare to lie down ; that would have 
been instantly fatal. By this time he had killed three 
of the wolves or so maimed them that they were en- 
tirely out of the fight. 

At this juncture the suffering animal was mercifully 
shot, and the wolves allowed to batten on his thin and 
tough carcass. 

Often there are serious results growing out of a stam- 
pede, either by mules or a herd of buffalo. A portion of 
the Fifth United States Infantry had a narrow escape 
from a buffalo stampede on the Old Trail, in the early 
summer of 1866. General George A. Sykes, who com- 
manded the Division of Regulars in the Army of the 
Potomac during the Civil War, was ordered to join his 
regiment, stationed in New Mexico, and was conducting 
a body of recruits, with their complement of officers, to 
fill up the decimated ranks of the army stationed at the 
various military posts, in far-off Gi'easer Land. 

The command numbered nearly eight hundred, includ- 
ing the subaltern officers. These recruits^or the majority 
of them at least, were recruits in name only ; they had 
seen service in many a hard campaign of the Rebellion. 
Some, of course, were beardless youths just out of their 



THE BUFFALO 221 

teens, full of that martial ardour which induced so many 
young men of the nation to follow the drum on the re- 
mote plains and in the fastnesses of the Rocky Moun- 
tains, where the wily savages still held almost undisputed 
sway, and were a constant menace to the pioneer settlers. 

One morning, when the command had just settled itself 
in careless repose on the short grass of the apparently 
interminable prairie at the first halt of the day's march, 
a short distance beyond Fort Larned, a strange noise, like 
the low muttering of thunder below the horizon, greeted 
the ears of the little army. 

All were startled by the ominous sound, unlike any- 
thing they had heard before on their dreary tour. The 
general ordered his scouts out to learn the cause ; could 
it be Indians? Every eye was strained for something out 
of the ordinary. Even the horses of the officers and the 
mules of the supply-train were infected by something 
that seemed impending ; they grew restless, stamped the 
earth, and vainly essayed to stampede, but were pre- 
vented by their hobbles and picket-pins. 

Presently one of the scouts returned from over the 
divide, and reported to the general that an immense herd 
of buffalo was tearing down toward the Trail, and from 
the great clouds of dust they raised, which obscured the 
horizon, there must have been ten thousand of them. 
The roar wafted to the command, and which seemed so 
mysterious, was made by their hoofs as they rattled over 
the dry prairie. 

The sound increased in volume rapidly, and soon a black, 
surging mass was discovered bearing right down on the 
Trail. Behind it could be seen a cavalcade of about five 
hundred Cheyennes, Comanches, and Kiowas, who had 
maddened the shaggy brutes, hoping to capture the train 
without an attack by forcing the frightened animals to 
overrun the command. 



% 

222 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Luckily, something caused the herd to open before it 
reached the foot of the divide, and it passed in two 
masses, leaving the command between, not two hundred 
feet from either division of the infuriated beasts. 

The rage of the savages was evident when they saw that 
their attempt to annihilate the troops had failed, and they 
rode off sullenly into the sand hills, as the number of 
soldiers was too great for them to think of charg'insr. 

Cody tells of a buffalo stampede which he witnessed 
in his youth on the plains, when he was a wagon-master. 
The caravan was on its way with government stores for 
the military posts in the mountains, and the wagons were 
hauled by oxen. 

He says : " The country was alive with buffalo, and be- 
sides killing quite a number we had a rare day for sport. 
< )ne morning we pulled out of camp, and the train was 
strung out to a considerable length along the Trail, 
which ran near the foot of the sand hills, two miles 
from the river. Between the road and the river we saw 
a large herd of buffalo grazing quietly, they having been 
down to the stream to drink. Just at this time we ob- 
served a party of returning Californians coming from the 
west. They, too, noticed the buffalo herd, and in another 
moment they were dashing down upon them, urging their 
horses to their greatest speed. The buffalo herd stampeded 
at once, and broke down the sides of the hills ; so hotly 
were they pursued by the hunters that about five hun- 
dred of them rushed pell-mell through our caravan, fright- 
ening both men and oxen. Some of the wagons were 
turned clear around and man}- of the terrified oxen at- 
tempted to run to the hills with the heavy wagons attached 
to them. Others were turned around so short that they 
broke the tongues off. Nearly all the teams got entangled 
in their gearing and became wild and unruly, so that the 
perplexed drivers were unable to manage them. 



THE BUFFALO 223 

"The buffalo, the cattle, and the men were soon running 
in every direction, and the excitement upset everybody 
and everything. Many of the oxen broke their yokes 
and stampeded. One big buffalo bull became entangled 
in one of the heavy wagon-chains, and it is a fact that in 
his desperate efforts to free himself, he not only snapped 
the strong chain in two, but broke the ox-yoke to which 
it was attached, and the last seen of him he was running 
toward the hills with it hanging from his horns." 

Stampedes were a great source of profit to the Indians 
of the plains. The Comanches were particularly expert 
and daring in this kind of robbery. They even trained 
their horses to run from one point to another in expec- 
tation of the coming of the trains. When a camp was 
made that was nearly in range, they turned their trained 
animals loose, which at once flew across the prairie, pass- 
ing through the herd and penetrating the very corrals 
of their victims. All of the picketed horses and mules 
would endeavour to follow these decoys, and were invaria- 
bly led right into the haunts of the Indians, who easily 
secured them. Young horses and mules were easily fright- 
ened ; and, in the confusion which generally ensued, great 
injury was frequently done to the runaways themselves. 

At times when the herd was very large, the horses scat- 
tered over the prairie and were irrevocably lost ; and 
such as did not become wild fell a prey to the wolves. 
That fate was very frequently the lot of stampeded horses 
bred in the States, they not having been trained by a 
prairie life to take care of themselves. Instead of stop- 
ping and bravely fighting off the blood-thirsty beasts, they 
would run. Then the whole pack were sure to leave 
the bolder animals and make for the runaways, which they 
seldom failed to overtake and despatch. 

On the Old Trail some years ago one of these stampedes 
occurred of a band of government horses, in which were 



224 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

several valuable animals. It was attended, however, with 
very little loss, through the courage and great exertion 
of the men who had them in charge ; many were recovered, 
but none without having sustained injuries. 

Hon. R. M. Wright, of Dodge City> Kansas, one of the 
pioneers in the days of the Santa Fe trade, and in the 
settlement of the State, has had many exciting experiences 
both with the savages of the great plains, and the buffalo. 
In relation to the habits of the latter, no man is better 
qualified to speak. 

He was once owner of Fort Aubrey, a celebrated point 
on the Trail, but was compelled to abandon it on account 
of constant persecution by the Indians, or rather he was 
ordered to do so by the military authorities. While oc- 
cupying the once famous landmark, in connection with 
others, had a contract to furnish hay to the government 
at Fort Lyon, seventy-five miles further west. His jour- 
nal, which he kindly placed at my disposal, says : " While 
we were preparing to commence the work, a vast herd 
of buffalo stampeded through our range one night, and 
took off with them about half of our work cattle. The 
next day a stage-driver and conductor on the Overland 
Route told us they had seen a number of our oxen twenty- 
five miles east of Aubrey, and this information gave me 
an idea in which direction to hunt for the missing beasts. 
I immediately started after them, while my partner took 
those that remained and a few wagons and left with them 
for Fort Lyon. 

" Let me explain here that while the Indians were sup- 
posed to be peaceable, small war-parties of } r oung men, 
who could not be controlled by their chiefs, were contin- 
ually committing depredations, and the main body of sav- 
ages themselves were very uneasy, and might be exjaected 
to break out any day. In consequence of this unsettled 
state of affairs, there had been a brisk movement among 



THE BUFFALO 225 

the United States troops stationed at the various military- 
posts, a large number of whom were believed to be on the 
road from Denver to Fort Lyon. 

" I filled my saddle-bags with jerked buffalo, hardtack 
and ground coffee, and took with me a belt of cartridges, 
my rifle and six-shooter, a field-glass and my blankets, pre- 
pared for any emergency. The first day out, I found a 
few of the lost cattle, and placed them on the river-bottom, 
which I continued to do as fast as I recovered them, for a 
distance of about eighty-five miles down the Arkansas. 
There I met a wagon-train, the drivers of which told me 
that I would find several more of my oxen with a train 
that had arrived at the Cimarron crossing the day before. 
I came up with this train in eight or ten hours' travel 
south of the river, got my cattle, and started next morn- 
ing for home. 

" I picked up those I had left on the Arkansas as I went 
along, and after having made a very hard day's travel, 
about sundown I concluded I would go into camp. I had 
only fairly halted when the oxen began to drop clown, so 
completely tired out were they, as I believed. Just as it 
was growing dark, I happened to look toward the west, 
and I saw several fires on a big island, near what was 
called ' The Lone Tree,' about a mile from where I had 
determined to remain for the night. 

" Thinking the fires were those of the soldiers that I 
had heard were on the road from Denver, and anticipating 
and longing for a cup of good coffee, as I had had none 
for five days, knowing, too, that the troops would be full 
of news, I felt good and determined to go over to their 
camp. 

" The Arkansas was low, but the banks steep, with high, 
rank grass growing to the very water's edge. I found a 
buffalo-trail cut through the deep bank, narrow and pre- 
cipitous, and down this I went, arriving in a short time 

Q 



226 THE OLD SANTA YE TRAIL 

within a little distance of my supjiosed soldiers' camp. 
When I had reached the middle of another deep cut in 
the bank, I looked across to the island, and, great Caesar! 
saw a hundred little fires, around which an aggregation 
of a thousand Indians were huddled! 

" I slid backwards off my horse, and by dint of great 
exertion, worked him up the river-barik as quietly and 
quickly as possible, then led him gently away out on the 
prairie. My first impulse was not to go back to the cattle ; 
but as we needed them very badly, I concluded to return, 
put them all on their feet, and light out mighty lively, 
without making any noise. I started them, and, oh dear! 
I was afraid to tread upon a weed, lest it would snap and 
bring the Indians down on my trail. Until I had put 
several miles between them and me, I could not rest easy 
for a moment. Tired as I was, tired as were both my 
horse and the cattle, I drove them twenty-five miles before 
I halted. Then daylight was upon me. I was at what 
is known as Chouteau's Island, a once famous place in 
the days of the Old Santa Fe Trail. 

" Of course, I had to let the oxen and my horse rest and 
fill themselves until the afternoon, and I lay down, and fell 
asleep, but did not sleep long, as I thought it dangerous 
to remain too near the cattle. I rose and walked up a big, 
dry sand creek that opened into the river, and after I had 
ascended it for a couple of miles, found the banks very 
steep ; in fact, they rose to a height of eighteen or twenty 
feet, and were sharply cut up by narrow trails made by 
the buffalo. 

" The whole face of the earth was covered by buffalo, 
and they were slowly grazing toward the Arkansas. All 
at once they became frightened at something, and stam- 
peded pell-mell toward the very spot on which I stood. 
I quickly ran into one of the precipitous little paths and 
up on the prairie, to see what had scared them. They 



THE BUFFALO 227 

were making the ground fairly tremble as their mighty 
multitude came rushing on at full speed, the sound of 
their hoofs resembling thunder, but in a continuous peal. 
It appeared to me that they must sweep everything in 
their path, and for my own preservation I rushed under 
the creek-bank, but on they came like a tornado, with one 
old bull in the lead. He held up a second to descend 
the narrow trail, and when he had got about halfway 
down I let him have it ; I was only a few steps from him 
and over he tumbled. I don't know why I killed him ; 
out of pure wantonness, I expect, or perhaps I thought it 
would frighten the others back. Not so, however ; they 
only quickened their pace, and came dashing down in 
great numbers. Dozens of them stumbled and fell over 
the dead bull ; others fell over them. The top of the 
bank was fairly swarming with them ; they leaped, pitched, 
and rolled down. I crouched as close to the bank as 
possible, but many of them just grazed my head, knocking 
the sand and gravel in great streams down my neck ; 
indeed I was half buried before the herd had passed over. 
That old bull was the last buffalo I ever shot wantonly, 
excepting once, from an ambulance while riding on the 
Old Trail, to please a distinguished Englishman, who had 
never seen one shot ; then I did it only after his most 
earnest persuasion. 

" One day a stage-driver named Frank Harris and 
myself started out after buffalo ; they were scarce, for 
a wonder, and we were very hungry for fresh meat. The 
day was fine and we rode a long way, expecting sooner 
or later a bunch would jump up, but in the afternoon, 
having seen none, we gave it up and started for the 
ranch. Of course, we didn't care to save our ammuni- 
tion, so shot it away at everything in sight, skunks, rattle- 
snakes, prairie-dogs, and gophers, until we had only a few 
loads left. Suddenly an old bull jumped up that had 



228 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

been lying down in one of those sugar-loaf-shaped sand 
hills, whose tops are hollowed out by the action of the wind. 
Harris emptied his revolver into him, and so did I ; but the 
old fellow sullenly stood still there on top of the sand hill, 
bleeding profusely at the nose, and yet absolutely refusing 
to die, although he would repeatedly stagger and nearly 
tumble over. 

" It was getting late and we couldn't wait on him, so 
Harris said : ' I will dismount, creep up behind him, and 
cut his hamstrings with my butcher-knife.' The bull 
having now lain down, Harris commenced operations, but 
his movement seemed to infuse new life into the old fellow ; 
he jumped to his feet, his head lowered in the attitude 
of fight, and away he went around the outside of the top 
of the sand hill ! It was a perfect circus with one ring ; 
Harris, who was a tall, lanky fellow, took hold of the en- 
raged animal's tail as he rose to his feet, and in a moment 
his legs were flying higher than his head, but he did not 
dare let go of his hold on the bull's tail, and around and 
around they went ; it was his only show for life. I could 
not assist him a particle, but had to sit and hold his horse, 
and be judge of the fight. I really thought that old bull 
would never weaken. Finally, however, the 'ring' per- 
formance began to show symptoms of fatigue ; slower and 
slower the actions of the bull grew, and at last Harris suc- 
ceeded in cutting his hamstrings and the poor beast went 
down. Harris said afterward, when the danger was all 
over, that the only thing he feared was that perhaps the 
bull's tail would pull out, and if it did, he was well aware 
that he was a goner. We brought his tongue, hump, and 
a hindquarter to the ranch with us, and had a glorious 
feast and a big laugh that night with the boys over the 
ridiculous adventure." 

General Richard Irving Dodge, United States army, 
in his work on the big game of America, says : " It is 



THE BUFFALO 229 

almost impossible for a civilized being to realize the value 
to the plains Indian of the buffalo. It furnished him with 
home, food, clothing, bedding, horse equipment, — almost 
everything. 

"From 1869 to 1873 I was stationed at various posts 
along the Arkansas River. Early in spring, as soon as the 
dry and apparently desert prairie had begun to change its 
coat of dingy brown to one of palest green, the horizon 
would begin to be dotted with buffalo, single or in groups 
of two or three, forerunners of the coming herd. Thick 
and thicker, and in large groups they come, until by the 
time the grass is well up, the whole vast landscape ap- 
pears a mass of buffalo, some individuals feeding, others 
lying down, but the herd slowly moving to the northward; 
of their number, it was impossible to form a conjecture. 

" Determined as they are to pursue their journey north- 
ward, yet they are exceedingly cautious and timid about it, 
and on any alarm rush to the southward with all speed, 
until that alarm is dissipated. Especially is this the case 
when any unusual object appears in their rear, and so 
utterly regardless of consequences are they, that an old 
plainsman will not risk a wagon-train in such a herd, 
where rising ground will permit those in front to get a 
good view of their rear. 

" In May, 1871, 1 drove in a buggy from old Fort Zarah 
to Fort Lamed, on the Arkansas River. The distance 
is thirty-four miles. At least twenty-five miles of that 
distance was through an immense herd. The whole 
country was one mass of buffalo, apparently, and it was 
only when actually among them, that the seemingly solid 
body was seen to be an agglomeration of countless herds 
of from fifty to two hundred animals, separated from the 
surrounding herds by a greater or less space, but still 
separated. 

" The road ran along the broad valley of the Arkansas. 



230 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Some miles from Zarah a low line of hills rises from the 
plain on the right, gradually increasing in height and 
approaching road and river, until they culminate in 
Pawnee Rock. 

" So long as I was in the broad, level valley, the herds 
sullenly got out of my way, and, turning, stared stupidly 
at me, some within thirty or forty yards. When, however, 
1 had reached a point where the hills were no more than 
a mile from the road, the buffalo on the crests, seeing an 
unusual object in their rear, turned, stared an instant, 
then started at full speed toward me, stampeding and 
bringing with them the numberless herds through which 
they passed, and pouring down on me, no longer separated, 
but compacted into one immense mass of plunging animals, 
mad with fright, irresistible as ah avalanche. 

" The situation was by no means pleasant. There was 
but one hope of escape. My horse was, fortunately, a 
quiet old beast, that had rushed with me into many a 
herd, and been in at the death of many a buffalo. Rein- 
ing him up, I waited until the front of the mass was within 
fifty yards, then, with a few well-directed shots, dropped 
some of the leaders, split the herd and sent it off in two 
streams to my right and left. When all had passed me, 
they stopped, apparently satisfied, though thousands were 
yet within reach of my rifle. After my servant had cut 
out the tongues of the fallen, I proceeded on my journe} 7 , 
only to have a similar experience within a mile or two, 
and this occurred so often that I reached Fort Lamed 
with twenty-six tongues, representing the greatest number 
of buffalo that I can blame myself with having murdered 
in one day. 

" Some years, as in 1871, the buffalo appeared to move 
northward in one immense column, oftentimes from twenty 
to fifty miles in width, and of unknown depth from front 
to rear. Other years the northward journey was made 



THE BUFFALO 231 

in several parallel columns moving at the same rate and 
with their numerous flankers covering a width of a hun- 
dred or more miles. 

" When the food in one locality fails, they go to another, 
and toward fall, when the grass of the high prairies be- 
comes parched by the heat and drought, they gradually 
work their way back to the south, concentrating on the 
rich pastures of Texas and the Indian Territory, whence, 
the same instinct acting on all, they are ready to start 
together again on their northward march as soon as spring 
starts the grass. 

" Old plainsmen and the Indians aver that the buffalo 
never return south ; that each year's herd was composed 
of animals which had never made the journey before, and 
would never make it again. All admit the northern mi- 
gration, that being too pronounced for any one to dispute, 
but refuse to admit the southern migration. Thousands 
of young calves were caught and killed every spring that 
were produced during this migration, and accompanied 
the herd northward; but because the buffalo did not 
return south in one vast body as they went north, it was 
stoutly maintained that they did not go south at all. 
The plainsman could give no reasonable hypothesis of his 
' No-return theory ' on which to base the origin of the 
vast herds which yearly made their march northward. 
The Indian was, however, equal to the occasion. Every 
plains Indian firmly believed that the buffalo were pro- 
duced in countless numbers in a country under ground ; 
that every spring the surplus swarmed, like bees from a 
hive, out of the immense cave-like opening in the region 
of the great Llano Estacado, or Staked Plain of Texas. 
In 1879 Stone Calf, a celebrated chief, assured me that 
he knew exactly where the caves were, though he had 
never seen them ; that the good God had provided this 
means for the constant supply of food for the Indian, and 



232 



THE OLD SANTA FE TKAIL 



however recklessly the white men might slaughter, they 
could never exterminate them. When last I saw him, 
the old man was beginning to waver in this belief, and 
feared that the ' Bad God ' had shut the entrances, and 
that his tribe must starve." 

The old trappers and plainsmen themselves, even as 
early as the beginning of the Santa Fe trade, noticed the 
gradual disappearance of the buffalo, while they still ex- 
isted in countless numbers. One veteran French Canadian, 
an employee of the American Fur Company, way back in 
the early '30's, used to mourn thus : ."Mais, sacre! les 
Amarican, dey go to de Missouri frontier, de buffalo he 
ron to de montaigne ; de trappaire wid his fusil, he follow 
to de Bayou Salacle, he ron again. Dans les Montaignes 
Espagnol, bang! bang! toute la journee, toute la journee, 
go de sacre voleurs. De bison he leave, parceque les 
fusils scare im vara moche, ici la de sem-sacre! " 




£>u/felo £>one)M - orl_e§a/ Tender for 
ttdrfier Counfy 



CHAPTER XIII 



BIG TIMBERS WINTER CAMP OF THE CHEYENNES, KIOWAS, 

AND ARAPAHOES SAVAGE AMUSEMENTS A CHEYENNE 

LODGE INDIAN ETIQUETTE TREATMENT OF CHILDREN 

THE PIPE OF THE NORTH AMERICAN SAVAGE DOG FEAST 

MARRIAGE CEREMONY 



Jftiav I^^~~T|HIRTY-FIVE miles be- 

f^^^2S ^aP"* fore arriving at Bent's 

team- ^^ b 

Fort, at which point the 

Old Trail crossed the 
Arkansas, the valley 
widens and the prairie 
falls toward the river 
in gentle undulations. 
There for many years the 
three friendly tribes of 
plains Indians — Chey- 
ennes, Axapahoes, and 
Kiowas — established 
their winter villages, in 
order to avail them- 
selves of the supply of wood, to trade with the whites, 
and to feed their herds of ponies on the small limbs and 
bark of the Cottonwood trees growing along the margin 
of the stream for four or five miles. It was called Big 
Timbers, and was one of the most eligible places to camp 
on the whole route after leaving Council Grove. The 
grass, particularly on the south side of the river, was 
excellent ; there was an endless supply of fuel, and cool 
water without stint. 

233 




23-4 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

In the severe winters that sometimes were fruitful of 
blinding blizzards, sweeping from the north in an inten- 
sity of fury that was almost inconceivable, the buffalo too 
congregated there for shelter, and to browse on the twigs 
of the great trees. 

The once famous grove, though denuded of much of its 
timber, may still be seen from the car windows as the 
trains hurry mountain ward. 

Garrard, in his Taos Trail, presents an interesting and 
amusing account of a visit to the Cheyenne village with 
old John Smith, in 1847, when the Santa Fe trade was 
at its height, and that with the various tribes of savages 
in its golden days. 

" Toward the middle of the day, the village was in a 
great bustle. Every squaw, child, and man had their 
faces blackened — a manifestation of joy. 1 

Pell-mell they went — men, squaws, and dogs — into 
the icy river. Some hastily jerked off their leggings, and 
held moccasins and dresses high out of the water. Others, 
too impatient, dashed the stream from beneath their im- 
petuous feet, scarce taking time to draw more closely the 
always worn robe. Wondering what caused all this com- 
motion, and looking over the river, whither the yelling, 
half-frantic savages were so speedily hurrying, we saw a 
band of Indians advancing toward us. As the foremost 
braves reined their champing barbs on the river-bank, 
mingled whoops of triumph and delight and the repeated 
discharge of guns filled the air. In the hands of three 
were slender willow wands, from the smaller points of 
which dangled as many scalps — the single tuft of hair on 
each pronouncing them Pawnees. 2 

1 This black is made from a species of plumbago found on the hills of 
the region. 

2 The Pawnees and Cheyennes were hereditary enemies, and they 
frequently met in sanguinary conflict. 



INDIAN CUSTOMS AND LEGENDS 235 

" These were raised aloft, amid unrestrained bursts of 
joy from the thrice-happy, blood-thirsty throng. Children 
ran to meet their fathers, sisters their brothers, girls their 
lovers, returning from the scene of victorious strife ; 
decrepit matrons welcomed manly sons ; and aged chiefs 
their boys and braves. It was a scene of affection, and 
a proud day in the Cheyenne annals of prowess. That 
small but gallant band were relieved of their shields and 
lances by tender-hearted squaws, and accompanied to 
their respective homes, to repose by the lodge-fire, con- 
sume choice meat, and to be the heroes of the family 
circle. 

" The drum at night sent forth its monotony of hollow 
sound, and my Mexican Pedro and I, directed by the 
booming, entered a lodge, vacated for the purpose, full of 
young men and squaws, following one another in a con- 
tinuous circle, keeping the left knee stiff and bending the 
right with a half-forward, half-backward step, as if they 
wanted to go on and could not, accompanying it, every 
time the right foot was raised, with an energetic, broken 
song, which, dying away, was again and again sounded — 
' hay-a, hay-a, hay-a,' they went, laying the emphasis on 
the first syllable. A drum, similar to, though larger than 
a tambourine, covered with parfliche, 1 was beaten upon 
with a stick, producing with the voices a sound not 
altogether disagreeable. 

" Throughout the entire night and succeeding day the 
voices of the singers and heavy notes of the drum reached 
us, and at night again the same dull sound lulled me to 
sleep. Before daylight our lodge was filled with careless 
dancers, and the drum and voices, so unpleasing to our 

1 A French term Anglicised, as were many other foreign words by the 
trappers in the mountains. Its literal meaning is, arrow fender, for from 
it the plains Indians construct their shields ; it is buffalo-hide prepared 
in a certain manner. 



236 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

wearied ears, were giving us the full benefit of their 
compass. Smith, whose policy it was not to be offended, 
bore the infliction as best he could, and I looked on much 
amused. The lodge was so full that they stood without 
dancing, in a circle round the fire, and with a swaying 
motion of the body kept time to their music. 

"During the day the young men, except the dancers, 
piled up dry logs in a level open space near, for a grand 
demonstration. At night, when it was fired, I folded my 
blanket over my shoulders, comme les sauvages, and went 
out. The faces of many girls were brilliant with ver- 
milion ; others were blacked, their robes, leggings, and 
skin dresses glittering with beads and quill -work. Rings 
and bracelets of shining brass encircled their taper arms 
and fingers, and shells dangled from their ears. Indeed, 
all the finery collectable was piled on in barbarous pro- 
fusion, though a few, in good taste through poverty, 
wore a single band and but few rings, with jetty hair 
parted in the middle, from the forehead to. the neck, ter- 
minating in two handsome braids. 

"The young men who can afford the expense trade for 
dollars and silver coin of less denomination, — coin as a 
currency is not known among them, — which they flatten 
thin, and fasten to a braid of buffalo hair, attached to 
the crown lock, which hangs behind, outside of the robe, 
and adds much to the handsome appearance of the wearer. 

" The girls, numbering two hundred, fell into line to- 
gether, and the men, of whom there were two hundred and 
fifty, joining, a circle was formed, which travelled around 
with the same shuffling step already described. The 
drummers and other musicians — twenty or twenty-five 
of them — marched in a contrary direction to and from 
and around the fire, inside the large ring ; for at the dis- 
tance kept by the outsiders the area was one hundred 
and fifty feet in diameter. The Apollonian emulators 



INDIAN CUSTOMS AND LEGENDS 237 

chanted the great deeds performed by the Cheyenne 
warriors. As they ended, the dying strain was caught 
up by the hundreds of the outside circle, who, in fast- 
swelling, loud tones, poured out the burden of their song. 
At this juncture the march was quickened, the scalps of 
the slain were borne aloft and shaken with wild delight, 
and shrill war-notes, rising above the furious din, accel- 
erated the pulsation and strung high the nerves. Time- 
worn shields, careering in mad holders' hands, clashed ; 
and keen lances, once reeking in Pawnee blood, clanged. 
Braves seized one another with an iron grip, in the heat 
of excitement, or chimed more tenderly in the chant, 
enveloped in the same robe with some maiden as they 
approvingly stepped through one of their own original 
polkas. 

" Thirty of the chiefs and principal men were ranged 
by the pile of blazing logs. By their invitation, I sat 
down with them and smoked death and its concomitant 
train of evils to those audacious tribes who doubt the 
courage or supremacy of the brave, the great and power- 
ful, Cheyenne nation." 

It is Indian etiquette that the first lodge a stranger 
enters on visiting a village is his home as long as he 
remains the guest of the tribe. It is all the same whether 
he be invited or not. Upon going in, it is customary to 
place all your traps in the back part, which is the most 
honoured spot. The proprietor alwaj'S occupies that part 
of his home, but invariably gives it up to a guest. With 
the Cheyennes, the white man, when the tribe was at 
peace with him, was ever welcome, as in the early days of 
the border he generally had a supply of coffee, of which 
the savage is particularly fond, — Mok-ta-bo-mah-pe, as 
they call it. Their salutation to the stranger coming 
into the presence of the owner of a lodge is " Hook-ah- 
haij ! Num-whit" — "How do you do? Stay with us." 



238 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Water is then handed by a squaw, as it is supposed a trav- 
eller is thirsty after riding ; then meat, for he must be hun- 
gry, too. A pipe is offered, and conversation follows. 

The lodge of the Cheyennes is formed of seventeen poles, 
about three inches .thick at the end which rests on the 
ground, slender in shape, tapering symmetrically, and 
eighteen feet or more in length. They are tied together 
at the small ends with buffalo-hide, then raised until the 
frame resembles a cone, over which buffalo-skins are placed, 
very skilfully fitted and made soft by having been dubbed 
by the women, — that is, scraped to the requisite thinness, 
and made supple by rubbing with the brains of the animal 
that wore it. They are sewed together with sinews of 
the buffalo, generally of the long and powerful muscle 
that holds up the ponderous head of the skaggj r beast, a 
narrow strip running towards the hump. In summer the 
lower edges of the skin are rolled up, and the wind blow- 
ing through, it is a cool, shady retreat. In winter every- 
thing is closed, and I know of no more comfortable place 
than a well-made Indian lodge. The army tent known 
as the Sibley is modelled after it, and is the best winter 
shelter for troops in the field that can be made. Many 
times while the military post; where I had been ordered 
was in process of building, I have chosen the Sibley tent 
in preference to any other domicile. 

When a village is to be moved, it is an interesting 
sight. The young and unfledged boys drive up the 
herd of ponies, and then the squaws catch them. The 
women, too, take down the lodges, and, tying the poles in 
two bundles, fasten them on each side of an animal, the 
long ends dragging on the ground. Just behind the pony 
or mule, as the case may be, a basket is placed and held 
there by buffalo-hide thongs, and into these novel carriages 
the little children are put, besides such traps as are not 
easily packed on the animal's back. 



INDIAN CUSTOMS AND LEGENDS 239 

The women do all the work both in camp and when mov- 
ing. They are doomed to a hopeless bondage of slavery, 
the fate of their sex in every savage race ; but they accept 
their condition stoically, and there is as much affection 
among them for their husbands and children as I have 
ever witnessed among the white race. Here are two in- 
stances of their devotion; both of which came under my 
personal observation, and I could give hundreds of others. 

Late in the fall of 1858, I was one of a party on the 
trail of a band of Indians who had been committing some 
horrible murders in a mining-camp in the northern portion 
of Washington Territory. On the fourth day out, just 
about dusk, we struck their moccasin tracks, which we 
followed all night, and surprised their camp in the gray 
light of the early morning. In less than ten minutes the 
fight was over, and besides the killed we captured six 
prisoners. Then as the rising sun commenced to gild the 
peaks of the lofty range on the west, having granted our 
captives half an hour to take leave of their families, the 
ankles of each were bound ; they were made to kneel on 
the prairie, a squad of soldiers, with loaded rifles, were 
drawn up eight paces in front of them, and at the instant 
the signal — a white handkerchief — was dropped the sav- 
ages tumbled over on the sod a heap of corpses. The 
parting between the condemned men and their young 
wives and children, I shall never forget. It was the most 
perfect exhibition of marital and filial love that I have 
ever witnessed. Such harsh measures may seem cruel and 
heartless in the light of to-day, but there was none other 
than martial law then in the wilderness of the Northern 
Pacific coast, and the execution was a stern necessity. 

The other instance was ten years later. During the In- 
dian campaign in the winter of 1868-69 I was riding with 
a party of officers and enlisted men, south of the Arkansas, 
about forty miles from Fort Dodge. We were watching 



240 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

some cavalrymen unearth three or four dead warriors who 
had been killed by two scouts in a fierce unequal fight a 
few weeks before, and as we rode into a small ravine among 
the sand hills, we suddenly came upon a rudely con- 
structed Cheyenne lodge. Entering, we discovered on 
a rough platform, fashioned of green poles, a dead warrior 
in full war-dress ; his shield of buffalo-hide, pipe orna- 
mented with eagles' feathers, and medicine bag, were 
lying on the ground beside him. At his head, on her 
knees, with hands clasped in the attitude of prayer, was 
a squaw frozen to death. Which had first succumbed, the 
wounded chief, or the devoted wife in the awful cold oi 
that winter prairie, will never be known, but it proved 
her love for the man who had perhaps beaten her a hun- 
dred times. Such tender and sympathetic affection is 
characteristic of the sex everywhere, no less with the 
poor savage than in the dominant white race. 

To return to our description of the average Indian vil- 
lage : Each lodge at the grand encampment of Big Timbers 
in the era of traffic with the nomads of the great plains, 
owned its separate herd of ponies and mules. In the 
exodus to some other favoured spot, two dozen or more of 
these individual herds travelled close to each other but 
never mixed, each drove devotedly following its bell- 
mare, as in a pack-train. This useful animal is generally 
the most worthless and wicked beast in the entire outfit. 

The animals with the lodge-pole carriages go as they 
please, no special care being taken to guide them, but 
they too instinctively keep within sound of the leader. I 
will again quote Garrard for an accurate description of 
the moving camp when he was with the Cheyennes in 
1847: — 

" The young squaws take much care of their dress and 
horse equipments ; they dash f urioiisly past on wild steeds, 
astride of the high-pommelled saddles. A fancifully col- 



INDIAN CUSTOMS AND LEGENDS 241 

oured cover, worked with beads or porcupine quills, mak- 
ing a flashy, striking appearance, extended from withers to 
rump of the horse, while the riders evinced an admira- 
ble daring, worthy of Amazons. Their dresses were made 
of buckskin, high at the neck, with short sleeves, or rather 
none at all, fitting loosely, and reaching obliquely to the 
knee, giving a Diana look to the costume ; the edges 
scalloped, worked with beads, and fringed. From the 
knee downward the limb was encased in a tightly fitting 
legging, terminating in a neat moccasin — both handsomely 
wrought with beads. On the arms were bracelets of brass, 
which glittered and reflected in the radiant morning sun, 
adding much to their attractions. In their pierced ears, 
shells from the Pacific shore were pendent ; and to com- 
plete the picture of savage taste and profusion, their fine 
complexions were -eclipsed by a coat of flaming vermilion. 

" Many of the largest dogs were packed with a small 
quantity of meat, or something not easily injured. They 
looked queerly, trotting industriously under their burdens ; 
and, judging from a small stock of canine physiological 
information, not a little of the wolf was in their com- 
position. 

" We crossed the river on our way to the new camp. The 
alarm manifested by the children in the lodge-pole drays, 
as they dipped in the water, was amusing. The little fel- 
lows, holding their breath, not daring to cry, looked implor- 
ingly at their inexorable mothers, and were encouraged 
by words of approbation from their stern fathers. 

" After a ride of two hours we stopped, and the chiefs, 
fastening their horses, collected in circles to smoke 
their pipe and talk, letting their squaws unpack the 
animals, pitch the lodges, build the fires, and arrange the 
robes. When all was ready, these lords of creation dis- 
persed to their several homes, to wait until their patient 
and enduring spouses prepared some food. I was pro- 



242 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

voked, na) r , angry, to see the lazy, overgrown men do 
nothing to help their wives ; and when the young women 
pulled off their bracelets and finery to chop wood, the 
cup of my wrath was full to overflowing, and, in a fit of 
honest indignation, I pronounced them ungallant and 
savage in the true sense of the word." 

The treatment of Indian children, particularly boys, is 
something startling to the gentle sentiments of refined 
white mothers. The girls receive hardly any attention 
from their fathers. Implicit obedience is the watchword 
of the lodge with them, and they are constantly taught to 
appreciate their inferiorit}' ,of sex. The daughter is a 
mere slave ; unnoticed and neglected — a mere hewer of 
wood and drawer of water. With a son, it is entirely 
different ; the father from his birth dotes on him and 
manifests his affection in the most demonstrative manner. 

Garrard tells of two instances that came under his 
observation while stajdng at the chief's lodge, and at 
John Smith's, in the Cheyenne village, of the discipline to 
which the boys are subjected. 

" In Vi-po-nah's lodge was his grandson, a boy six or 
seven months old. Every morning his mother washed 
him in cold water, and set him out in the air to make 
him hardy ; he would come in, perfectly nude, from his 
airing, about half-frozen. How he would laugh and 
brighten up, as he felt the w.armth of the fire ! 

" Smith's son Jack took a crying fit one cold night, much 
to the annoyance of four or five chiefs, who had come to 
our lodge to talk and smoke. In vain did the mother 
shake and scold him with the severest Cheyenne words, 
until Smith, provoked beyond endurance, took the squalling 
youngster in his hands ; he shu-ed and shouted and swore, 
but Jack had gone too far to be easily pacified. He then 
sent for a bucket of water from the river and poured 
cupful after cupful on Jack, who stamped and screamed 



INDIAN CUSTOMS AND LEGENDS 243 

and bit in his tiny rage. Notwithstanding, the icy stream 
slowly descended until the bucket was emptied, another 
was sent for, and again and again the cup was replenished 
and emptied on the blubbering youth. At last, exhausted 
with exertion and completely cooled down, he received 
the remaining water in silence, and, with a few words of 
admonition, was delivered over to his mother, in whose 
arms he stifled his sobs, until his heartbreaking grief 
and cares were drowned in sleep. What a devilish mixt- 
ure Indian and American blood is! " 

The Indians never chastise a boy, as they think his 
spirit would be broken and cowed down ; instead of a 
warrior he would be a squaw — a harsh epithet indica- 
tive of cowardice — and they resort to any method but 
infliction of blows to subdue a refractory scion. 

Before most of the lodges is a tripod of three sticks, 
about seven feet in length and an inch in diameter, fast- 
ened at the top, and the lower ends brought out, so that 
it stands alone. On this is hung the shield and a small 
square bag of parfieche, containing pipes, with an accom- 
panying pendent roll of stems, carefully wrapped in blue 
or red cloth, and decorated with beads and porcupine 
quills. This collection is held in great veneration, for 
the pipe is their only religion. Through its agency they 
invoke the Great Spirit ; through it they render homage 
to the winds, to the earth, ind to the sky. 

Every one has his peculiar notion on this subject ; and, 
in passing the pipe, one must have it presented stem down- 
ward, another the reverse ; some with the bowl resting 
on the ground ; and as this is a matter of great solemnity, 
their several fancies are respected. Sometimes I required 
them to hand it to me, when smoking, in imitation of 
their custom ; on this, a faint smile, half mingled with 
respect and pity for my folly in tampering with their 
sacred ceremony, would appear on their faces, and with a 



244 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

slow negative shake of the head, they would ejaculate, 
l I-sto-met-mah-son-ne-u>ah-hein ' — ' Pshaw ! that's foolish ; 
don't do so.' 

Religion the Chevennes have none, if, indeed, we except 
the respect paid to the pipe ; nor do we see any sign 
or vestige of spiritual worship ; except one remarkable 
thing, — in offering the pipe, before every fresh rilling, 
to the sky, the earth, and the winds, the motion made in 
so doing describes the form of a cross ; and, in blowing 
the first four whiffs, the smoke is invariably sent in the 
same four directions. It is undoubtedly void of meaning 
in reference to Christian worship, yet it is a superstition, 
founded on ancient tradition. This tribe once lived near 
the head waters of the Mississippi ; and, as the early 
Jesuit missionaries were energetic zealots, in the diffusion 
of their religious sentiments, probably to make their faith 
more acceptable to the Indians, the Roman Catholic rites 
were blended with the homage shown to the pipe, which 
custom of offering, in the form of a cross, is still retained 
by them ; but as every custom is handed down by tradi- 
tion merely, the true source has been forgotten. 

In every tribe in whose country I have been stationed, 
which comprises nearly all the continent excepting the 
extreme southwestern portion, his pipe is the Indian's 
constant companion through life. It is his messenger of 
peace ; he pledges his friendl through its stem and its 
bowl, and when he is dead, it has a place in his solitary 
grave, with his war-club and arrows — companions on his 
journey to his long-fancied beautiful hunting-grounds. 
The pipe of peace is a sacred thing ; so held by 
all Indian nations, and kept in possession of chiefs, 
to be smoked only at times of peacemaking. When 
the terms of treaty have been agreed upon, this sacred 
emblem, the stem of which is ornamented with eagle's 
quills, is brought forward, and the solemn pledge to keep 



INDIAN CUSTOMS AND LEGENDS 245 

the peace is passed through the sacred stem by each 
chief and warrior drawing the smoke once through it. 
After the ceremony is over, the warriors of the two tribes 
unite in the dance, with the pipe of peace held in the left 
hand of the chief and in his other a rattle. 

Thousands of years ago, the primitive savage of the 
American continent carried masses of pipe-stone from the 
sacred quarry in Minnesota across the vast wilderness of 
plains, to trade with the people of the far Southwest, 
over the same route that long afterward became the Santa 
Fe Trail ; therefore, it will be consistent with the char- 
acter of this work to relate the history of the quarry from 
which all the tribes procured their material for fashion- 
ing their pipes, and the curious legends connected with 
it. I have met with the red sandstone pipes on the re- 
motest portions of the Pacific coast, and east, west, north 
and south, in every tribe that it has been my fortune to 
know. 

The word "Dakotah " means allied or confederated, and 
is the family name now comprising some thirty bands, num- 
bering about thirty thousand Indians. They are generally 
designated Sioux, but that title is seldom willingly ac- 
knowledged by them. It was first given to them by the 
French, though its original interpretation is by no means 
clear. The accepted theory, because it is the most plau- 
sible, is that it is a corruption or rather an abbreviation of 
"Nadouessioux," a Chippewa word for enemies. 

Many of the Sioux are semi-civilized ; some are 
" blanket-Indians," so called, but there are no longer any 
murderous or predatory bands, and all save a few strag- 
glers are on the reservations. From 1812 to 1876, more 
than half a century, they were the scourge of the West 
and the Northwest, but another outbreak is highly im- 
probable. They once occupied the vast region included 
between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains, and 



246 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

were always migratory in their methods of living. Over 
fifty years ago, when the whites first became acquainted 
with them, they were divided into nearly fifty bands or 
families, each with its separate chief, but all acknowledg- 
ing a superior chief to whom they were subordinate. 
They were at that time the happiest and most wealthy 
tribe on the continent, regarded from an Indian stand- 
point ; but then the great plains were stocked with buffalo 
and wild horses, and that fact alone warrants the assertion 
of contentment and riches. No finer-looking tribe ex- 
isted ; they could then muster more than ten thousand 
warriors, every one of whom would measure six feet, and 
all their movements were graceful and elastic. 

According to their legends, they came from the Pacific 
and encountered the Algonquins about the head waters 
of the Mississippi, where they were held in check, a por- 
tion of them, however, pushing on through their enemies 
and securing a foothold on the shores of Lake Michigan. 
This bold band was called by the Chippewas Winneba- 
gook (men-from-the-salt-water). In their original habi- 
tat on the great northern plains was located the celebrated 
" red pipe-stone quarry," a relatively limited area, owned 
by all tribes, but occupied permanently by none ; a purely 
neutral ground, — so designated by the Great Spirit, — 
where no war could possibly occur, and where mortal ene- 
mies might meet to procure the material for their pipes, 
but the hatchet was invariably buried during that time on 
the consecrated spot. 

The quarry has long since passed out of the control and 
jurisdiction of the Indians and is not included in any of 
their reservations, though near the Sisseton agency. It 
is located on the summit of the high divide between the 
Missouri and St. Peter's rivers in Minnesota, at a point 
not far from where the ninety-seventh meridian of longi- 
tude (from Greenwich) intersects the forty-fifth parallel 



INDIAN CUSTOMS AND LEGENDS 247 

of latitude. The divide was named by the French Coteau 
des Prairies, and the quarry is near its southern extremity. 
Not a tree or bush could be seen from the majestic mound 
when I last was there, some twenty years ago — nothing 
but the apparently interminable plains, until they were 
lost in the deep blue of the horizon. 

The luxury of smoking appears to have been known to 
all the tribes on the continent in their primitive state, and 
they indulge in the habit to excess ; any one familiar with 
their life can assert that the American savage smokes half 
of his time. Where so much attention is given to a mere 
pleasure, it naturally follows that he would devote his 
leisure and ingenuity to the construction of his pipe. 
The bowls of these were, from time immemorial, made of 
the peculiar red stone from the famous quarry referred 
to, which, until only a little over fifty years ago, was 
never visited by a white man, its sanctity forbidding any 
such sacrilege. 

That the spot should have been visited for untold cen- 
turies by all the Indian nations, who hid their weapons as 
they approached it, under fear of the vengeance of the 
Great Spirit, will not seem strange when the religion of 
the race is understood. One of the principal features of 
the quarry is a perpendicular wall of granite about thirty 
feet high, facing the west, and nearly two miles long. At 
the base of the wall there is a level prairie, running par- 
allel to it, half a mile wide. Under this strip of land, 
after digging through several slaty layers of rock, the red 
sandstone is found. Old graves, fortifications, and exca- 
vations abound, all confirmatory of the traditions cluster- 
ing around the weird place. 

Within a few rods of the base of the wall is a group of 
immense gneiss boulders, five in number, weighing prob- 
ably many hundred tons each, and under these are two 
holes in which two imaginary old women reside, — the 



248 THE OLD SANTA EE TRAIL 

guardian spirits of the quarry, — who were always con- 
sulted before any pipe-stone could be dug up. The vener- 
ation for this group of boulders was something wonder- 
ful ; not a spear of grass was broken or bent by his feet 
within sixty or seventy paces from them, where the trem- 
bling Indian halted, and throwing gifts to them in humble 
supplication, solicited permission to dig and take away the 
red stone for his pipes. 

Near this spot, too, on a high mound, was the " Thunder's 
nest," where a very small bird sat upon her eggs during 
fair weather. When the skies were rent with thunder at 
the approach of a storm, she was hatching her brood, which 
caused the terrible commotion in the heavens. The bird 
was eternal. The " medicine men " claimed that they had 
often seen her, and she was about as large as a little finger. 
Her mate was a serpent whose fiery tongue destroyed the 
young ones as soon as they were born, and the awful noise 
accompanying the act darted through the clouds. 

On the wall of rocks at the quarry are thousands of in- 
scriptions and paintings, the totems and arms of various 
tribes who have visited there ; but no idea can be formed 
of their antiquity.' 

Of the various traditions of the many .tribes, I here 
present a few. The Great Spirit at a remote period 
called all the Indian nations together at this place, 
and, standing on the brink of the precipice of red-stone 
rock, broke from its walls a piece and fashioned a pipe 
by simply turning it in his hands. He then smoked over 
them to the north, the south, the east, and the west, and 
told them the stone was red, that it was their flesh, that they 
must use it for their pipes of peace, that it belonged to 
all alike, and that the war-club and scalping-knife must 
never be raised on its ground. At the last whiff of his 
pipe his head went into a great cloud, and the whole sur- 
face of the ledge for miles was melted and glazed ; two 



INDIAN CUSTOMS AND LEGENDS 249 

great ovens were opened beneath, and two women — the 
guardian spirits of the place — entered them in a blaze of 
fire, and they are heard there yet answering to the con- 
jurations of the medicine men, who consult them when 
they visit the sacred place. 

The legend of the Knis-te-neu's tribe (Crees), a very 
small band in the British possessions, in relation to the 
quarry is this : In the time of a great freshet that occurred 
years ago and destroyed all the nations of the earth, every 
tribe of Indians assembled on the top of the Coteau des 
Prairies to get out of the way of the rushing and seething 
waters. When they had arrived there from all parts of 
the world, the water continued to rise until- it covered 
them completely, forming one solid mass of drowned Ind- 
ians, and their flesh was converted by the Great Spirit 
into red pipe-stone ; therefore, it was always considered 
neutral ground, belonging to all tribes alike, and all were 
to make their pipes out of it and smoke together. While 
they were drowning together, a young woman, Kwaptan, 
a virgin, caught hold of the foot of a very large bird that 
was flying over at the time, and was carried to the top of 
a hill that was not far away and above the water. There 
she had twins, their father being the war-eagle that had 
carried her off, and her children have since peopled the 
earth. The pipe-stone, which is the flesh of their ances- 
tors, is smoked by them as the symbol of peace, and the 
eagle quills decorate the heads of their warriors. 

Severed about seven or eight feet from the main wall 
of the quarry by some convulsion of nature ages ago, 
there is an immense column just equal in height to the 
wall, seven feet in diameter and beautifully polished on 
its top and sides. It is called The Medicine, or Leaping 
Rock, and considerable nerve is required to jump on it 
from the main ledge and back again. Many an Indian's 
heart, in the past, has sighed for the honour of the feat 



250 



THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 



without daring to attempt it. A few, according to the 
records of the tribes, have tried it with success, and left 
their arrows standing up in its crevice ; others have made 
the leap and reached its slippery surface only to slide 
off, and suffer instant death on the craggy rocks in the 
awful chasm below. Every young man of the many 
tribes was ambitious to perform the feat, and those who 
had successfully accomplished it were permitted to boast 
of it all their lives. 




~-/\nnudi Raca of~75a3 Indians' 



CHAPTER XIV 



THE OLD PUEBLO FORT A CELEBRATED RENDEZV1US ITS 

INHABITANTS "FONTAINE QUI BOUILLE " THE LEGEND 

OF ITS ORIGIN THE TRAPPERS OF THE OLD SANTA FE 

TRAIL AND THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS BEAVER TRAPPING 

HABITS OF THE BEAVER IMPROVIDENCE OF THE OLD TRAP- 
PERS TRADING WITH " POOR LO " THE STRANGE EXPERI- 
ENCE OF A VETERAN TRAPPER ON THE SANTA FE TRAIL 

ROMANTIC MARRIAGE OF BAPTISTE BROWN 



VkO/cf 
Trapper' 



HE initial opening of the 
trade with New Mexico 
from the Missouri River, 
as has been related, was 
not direct to Santa Fe. 
The limited number of 
pack-trains at first passed 
to the north of the Raton 
Range, and travelled to 
the Spanish settlements 
in the valley of Taos. 

On this original Trail, 
where now is situated the 
beautiful city of Pueblo, 
the second place of im- 
portance in Colorado, 
there was a little Indian trading-post called "the Pueblo," 
from which the present thriving place derives its name. 
The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad practically 
follows the same route that the traders did to reach 

251 




252 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Pueblo, as it also does that which the freight caravans 
later followed from the Missouri River direct to Santa 
Fe. 

The old Pueblo fort, as nearly as can be determined 
now, was built as early as 1840, or not later than 1842, 
and, as one authority asserts, by George Simpson and his 
associates, Barclay and Doyle. Beckwourth claims to 
have been the original projector of the fort, and to have 
given the general plan and its name, in which I am in- 
clined to believe that he is correct ; perhaps Barclay, 
Doyle, and Simpson were connected with him, as he 
states that there were other trappers, though he mentions 
no names. It was a square fort of adobe, with circular 
bastions at the corners, no part of the walls being more 
than eight feet high. Around the inside of the plaza, or 
corral, were half a dozen small rooms inhabited by as 
many Indian traders and mountain-men. 

One of the earlier Indian agents, Mr. Fitzpatrick, in 
writing from Bent's Fort in 1847, thus describes the old 
Pueblo : — 

" About seventy-five miles above this place, and imme- 
diately on the Arkansas River, there is a small settlement, 
chiefly composed of old trappers and hunters; the male 
part of it are mostly Americans (Missourians), French 
Canadians, and Mexicans. It numbers about one hundred 
and fifty, and of this number about sixty men have wives, 
and some have two. These wives are of various Indian 
tribes, as follows ; viz. Blackfeet, Assiniboines, Sioux, 
Arapahoes, Cheyennes, Snakes, and Comanches. The 
American women are Mormons, a party of Mormons hav- 
ing wintered there, and then departed for California. 

The old trappers and hunters of the Pueblo fort lived 
entirely upon game, and a greater part of the year with- 
out bread. As soon as their supply of meat was exhausted, 
they started to the mountains with two or three pack- 



TRAPPERS 253 

animals, and brought back in two or three days loads of 
venison and buffalo. 

The Arkansas at the Pueblo is a clear, rapid river about 
a hundred yards wide. The bottom, which is enclosed on 
each side by high bluffs, is about a quarter of a mile 
across. In the early days of which I write, the margin 
of the stream was heavily timbered with cottonwood, 
and the tourist to-day may see the remnant of the primi- 
tive great woods, in the huge isolated trees scattered 
around the bottom in the vicinity of the Atchison, Topeka, 
and Santa Fe Railroad station of the charming mountain 
city. 

On each side vast rolling prairies stretch away for hun- 
dreds of miles, gradually ascending on the side towards 
the mountains, where the highlands are sparsely covered 
with pihon and cedar. The lofty banks through which 
the Arkansas occasionally passes are of shale and sand- 
stone, rising precipitously from the water. Ascending 
the river the country is wild and broken, until it enters 
the mountain region, where the scenery is incomparably 
grand and imposing. The surrounding prairies are natu- 
rally arid and sterile, producing but little vegetation, and 
the primitive grass, though of good quality, is thin and 
scarce. Now, however', under a competent system of 
irrigation, the whole aspect of the landscape is changed 
from what it was thirty years ago, and it has all the luxu- 
riance of a garden. 

The whole country, it is claimed, was once possessed 
by the Shos-shones, or Snake Indians, of whom the 
Comanches of the Southern plains are a branch ; and, al- 
though many hundred miles divide their hunting-grounds, 
they were once, if not the same people, tribes or bands of 
that great and powerful nation. They retain a language 
in common, and there is also a striking analogy in many 
of their religious rites and ceremonies, in their folk-lore, 



254 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

and in some of their everyday customs. These facts 
prove, at least, that there was at one time a very close 
alliance which bound the two tribes together. Half a 
century ago they were, in point of numbers, the two most 
powerful nations in all the numerous aggregations of Ind- 
ians in the West ; the Comanches ruling almost supreme 
on the Eastern plains, while the Shos-shones were the 
dominant tribe in the country beyond the Rocky Moun- 
tains, and in the mountains themselves. Once, many 
years ago, before the problem of the relative strength of 
the various tribes was as well solved as now. the Shos- 
shones were supposed to be the most powerful, and nu- 
merically the most populous, tribe of Indians on the North 
American continent. 

In the immediate vicinity of the old Pueblo fort at the 
time of its greatest business prosperity, game was scarce ; 
the buffalo had for some years deserted the neighbouring 
prairies, but they were always to be found in the moun- 
tain-valleys, particularly in one known as " Bayou Salado," 
which forty-five years ago abounded in elk, bear, deer, 
and antelope. 

The fort was situated a few hundred yards above the 
mouth of the " Fontaine qui Bouille " River, 1 so called 
from two springs of mineral water near its head, under 
Pike's Peak, about sixty miles above its mouth. 

As is the case with all the savage races of the world, 
the American Indians possess hereditary legends, account- 
ing for all the phenomena of nature, or aii} r occurrence 
which is beyond their comprehension. The Shos-shones 
had the following story to account for the presence of 
these wonderful springs in the midst of their favourite 
hunting-ground. The two fountains, one pouring forth 
the sweetest water imaginable, the other a stream as bitter 
as gall, are intimately connected with the cause of the 
1 Boiling Spring River. 



TRAPPERS 255 

separation of the two tribes. Their legend thus runs : 
Many hundreds of winters ago, when the cottonwoods on 
the big river were no higher than arrows, and the prairies 
were crowded with game, the red men who hunted the 
deer in the forests and the buffalo on the plains all spoke 
the same language, and the pipe of peace breathed its 
soothing cloud whenever two parties of hunters met on 
the boundless prairie. 

It happened one day that two hunters of different 
nations met on the bank of .a small rivulet, to which both 
had resorted to quench their thirst. A small stream of 
water, rising from a spring on a rock within a few feet of 
the bank, trickled over it and fell splashing into the river. 
One hunter sought the spring itself ; the other, tired by 
his exertions in the chase, threw himself at once to the 
ground, and plunged his face into the running stream. 

The latter had been unsuccessful in the hunt, and per- 
haps his bad fortune, and the sight of the fat deer Avhich 
the other threw from his back before he drank at the 
crystal spring, caused a feeling of jealousy and ill-humour 
to take possession of his mind. The other, on the con- 
trary, before he satisfied his thirst, raised in the hollow of 
his hand a portion of the water, and, lifting it toward the 
sun, reversed his hand, and allowed it to fall upon the 
ground, as a libation to the Great Spirit, who had vouch- 
safed him a successful hunt and the blessing of the re- 
freshing water with which he was about to quench his 
thirst. 

This reminder that he had neglected the usual offering 
onlj r increased the feeling of envy and annoyance which 
filled the unsuccessful hunter's heart. The Evil Spirit at 
that moment entering his body, his temper fairly flew 
away, and he sought some pretence to provoke a quarrel 
with the other Indian. 

" Why does a stranger," he asked, rising from the 



256 THE OLD SANTA EE TRAIL 

stream, " drink at the spring-head, when one to whom the 
fountain belongs contents himself with the water that 
runs from it?" 

" The Great Spirit places the cool water at the spring," 
answered the other hunter, " that his children may drink 
it pure and undehled. The running water is for the 
beasts which scour the plains. Ausaqua is a chief of the 
Shos-sliones ; he drinks at the head water." 

"The Shos-shones is but a tribe of the Comanches," re- 
turned the other : " Wacomish leads the whole nation. 
Why does a Shos-shone dare to drink above him?" 

" When the Manitou made his children, whether Shos- 
shone or Comanche, Arapaho, Cheyenne, or Pawnee, he 
gave them buffalo to eat, and the pure water of the foun- 
tain to quench their thirst. He said not to one, ' Drink 
here,' and to another, ' Drink there ' ; but gave the crystal 
spring to all, that all might drink." 

Wacomish almost burst with rage as the other spoke; 
but his coward heart prevented him from provoking an 
encounter with the calm Shos-shone. The latter, made 
thirsty by the words he had spoken, — for the Indian is 
ever sparing of his tongue, — again stooped down to the 
spring to drink, when the subtle warrior of the Comanches 
suddenly threw himself upon the kneeling hunter and, 
forcing his head into the bubbling water, held him down 
with all his strength until his victim no longer struggled : 
his stiffened limbs relaxed, and he fell forward over the 
spring, drowned. 

Mechanically the Comanche dragged the body a few 
paces from the water, and, as soon as the head of the dead 
Indian was withdrawn, the spring was suddenly and 
strangely disturbed. Bubbles sprang up from the bottom, 
and, rising to the surface, escaped in hissing gas. A thin 
vapour arose, and, gradually dissolving, displayed to the 
eyes of the trembling murderer the figure of an aged 



TRAPPERS 257 

Indian, whose long, snowy hair and venerable beard, blown 
aside from his breast, discovered the well-known totem of 
the great Wankanaga, the father of the Comanche and 
Shos-shone nation. 

Stretching out a war-club toward the Comanche, the 
figure thus addressed him : — 

" Accursed murderer ! While the blood of the brave 
Shos-shone cries to the Great Spirit for vengeance, 
may the water of thy tribe be rank and bitter in their 
throats ! " Thus saying, and swinging his ponderous 
war-club round his head, he dashed out the brains of the 
Comanche, who fell headlong into the spring, which from 
that day to this remains rank and nauseous, so that not 
even when half dead with thirst, can one drink from it. 

The good Wankanaga, however, to perpetuate the mem- 
ory of the Shos-shone warrior, who was renowned in his 
tribe for valour and nobleness of heart, struck with the 
same avenging club a hard, flat rock which overhung the 
rivulet, and forthwith a round clear basin opened, which 
instantly tilled with bubbling, sparkling water, sweet and 
cool. 

From that day the two mighty tribes of the Shos-shones 
and Comanches have remained severed and ajsart, although 
a long and bloody war followed the treacherous murder. 

The Indians regarded these wonderful springs with awe. 
The Arapahoes, especially, attributed to the Spirit of the 
springs the power, of ordaining the success or failure 
of their war expeditions. As their warriors passed by 
the mysterious pools when hunting their hereditary 
enemies, the Utes, they never failed to bestow their 
votive offerings upon the spring, in order to propitiate 
the Manitou of the strange fountain, and insure a fortu- 
nate issue to their path of war. As late as twenty-five 
years ago, the visitor to the place could always find the 
basin of the spring filled with beads and wampum, pieces 



258 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

of red cloth and knives, while the surrounding trees were 
hung with strips of deerskin, cloth, and moccasins. Signs 
were frequently observed in the vicinity of the waters 
unmistakably indicating that a war-dance had been exe- 
cuted there by the Arapahoes on their way to the Valley 
of Salt, occupied by the powerful Utes. 

Never was there such a paradise for hunters as this 
lone and solitary spot in the days when the region was 
known only to them and the trappers of the great fur 
companies. The shelving prairie, at the bottom of which 
the springs are situated, is entirely surrounded by rugged 
mountains and contained two or three acres of excellent 
grass, affording a safe pasture for their animals, which 
hardly cared to wander from such feeding and the salt 
they loved to lick. 

The trappers of the Rocky Mountains belonged to a 
genus that has disappeared. Forty years ago there was 
not a hole or corner in the vast wilderness of the far 
West that had not been explored by these hardy men. 
From the Mississippi to the mouth of the Colorado of 
the West, from the frozen regions of the north to the 
Gila in Mexico, the beaver hunter has set his traps in 
every creek and stream. The mountains and waters, in 
many instances, still retain the names assigned them by 
those rude hunters, who were veritable pioneers paving 
the way for the settlement of the stern country. 

A trapper's camp in the old days was quite a picture, 
as were all its surroundings. He did not always take the 
trouble to build a shelter, unless in the winter. A couple 
of deerskins stretched over a willow frame was considered 
sufficient to protect him from the storm. Sometimes he 
contented himself with a mere " breakwind," the rocky 
wall of a canon, or large ravine. Near at hand he set up 
two poles, in the crotch of which another was laid, where 
he kept, out of reach of the hungrj' wolf and coyote, his 



TRAPPERS 259 

meat, consisting of every variety afforded by the region 
in which he had pitched his camp. Under cover of the 
skins of the animals he had killed hung his old-fashioned 
powder-horn and bullet-pouch, while his trusty rifle, care- 
fully defended from the damp, was always within reach 
of his hand. Round his blazing fire at night his com- 
panions, if he had any, were other trappers on the same 
stream ; and, while engaged in cleaning their arms, mak- 
ing and mending moccasins, or running bullets, they told 
long yarns, until the lateness of the hour warned them to 
crawl under their blankets. 

Not far from the camp, his animals, well hobbled, fed 
in sight ; for nothing did a hunter dread more than a 
visit from horse-stealing Indians, and to be afoot was the 
acme of misery. 

Some hunters who bad married squaws carried about 
with them regular buffalo-skin lodges, which their wives 
took care of, according to Indian etiquette. 

The old-time trappers more nearly approximated the 
primitive savage, perhaps, than any other class of civil- 
ized men. Their lives being spent in the remote wilder- 
ness of the mountains, frequently with no other companion 
than Nature herself, their habits and character often as- 
sumed a most singular cast of simplicity, mingled with 
ferocity, that appeared to take its colouring from the 
scenes and objects which surrounded them. Having no 
wants save those of nature, their sole concern was to 
provide sufficient food to support life, and the necessary 
clothing to protect them from the sometimes rigorous 
climate. 

The costume of the average trapper was a hunting- 
shirt of dressed buckskin, with long, fringed trousers of 
the same material, decorated with porcupine quills. A 
flexible hat and moccasins covered his extremities, and 
over his left shoulder and under his right arm hung his 



260 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

powder-horn and bullet-pouch., in which he also carried 
flint, steel, and other odds and ends. Round his waist he 
wore a belt, in which was stuck a large knife in a sheath 
of buffalo-hide, made fast to the belt by a chain or guard 
of steel. It also supported a little buckskin case, which 
contained a whetstone, a very necessary article ; for in 
taking off the hides of the beaver a sharp knife was re- 
quired. His pipe-holder hung around his neck, and was 
generally a gage cVamour, a triumph of squaw workman- 
ship, wrought with beads and porcupine quills, often made 
in the shape of a heart. 

Necessarily keen observers of nature, they rivalled the 
beasts of prey in discovering the haunts and habits of 
game, and in their skill and cunning in capturing it 
outwitted the Indian himself. Constantly exposed to 
perils of all kinds, they became callous to any feeling 
of danger, and were firm friends or bitter enemies. It 
was a "word and a blow," the blow often coming first. 
Strong, active, hardy as bears, expert in the use of their 
weapons, they were just what an uncivilized white man 
might be supposed to be under conditions where he must 
depend upon his instincts for the support of life. 

Having determined upon the locality of his trapping- 
ground, the hunter started off, sometimes alone, sometimes 
three or four of them in company, as soon as the breaking 
of the ice in the streams would permit, if he was to go 
very far north. Arriving on the spot he has selected for 
his permanent camp, the first thing to be done, after he 
had settled himself, was to follow the windings of the 
creeks and rivers, keeping a sharp lookout for "signs." 
If he saw a prostrate cottonwood tree, he carefully ex- 
amined it to learn whether it was the work of beaver, and 
if so whether thrown for the purpose of food, or to dam 
the stream. The track of the animal on the mud or sand 
under the banks was also examined ; if the sign was fresh, 



TRAPPERS 261 

he set his trap in the run of the animal, hiding it under 
water, and attaching it by a stout chain to a picket driven 
in the bank, or to a bush or tree. A float-stick was made 
fast to the trap by a cord a few feet long, which, if the 
animal carried away the trap, would float on the water 
and point out its position. The trap was baited with 
" medicine," an oily substance obtained from the beaver. 
A stick was dipped in this and planted over the trap, and 
the beaver, attracted by the smell, put his leg into the trap 
and was caught. 

When a beaver lodge was discovered, the trap was set 
at the edge of the dam, at a point where the animal passed 
from deep to shoal water, and always under the surface. 
Early in the morning, the hunter mounted his mule and 
examined all his traps. 

The beaver is exceedingly wily, and if by scent or 
sound or sight he had any intimation of the presence of a 
trapper, he put at defiance all efforts to capture him, con- 
sequently it was necessary to practise great caution when 
in tiie neighbourhood of one of their lodges. The trapper 
then avoided riding for fear the sound of his horse's feet 
might strike dismay among the furry inhabitants under 
the water, and, instead of walking on the ground, he 
waded in the stream, lest he should leave a scent behind 
by which he might be discovered. 

In the days of the great fur companies, trappers were 
of two kinds, — the hired hand and the free trapper. The 
former was hired by the company, which supplied him 
with everything necessary, and paid him a certain price 
for his furs and peltries. The other hunted on his 
own hook, owned his animals and traps, went where he 
pleased, and sold to whom he chose. 

During the hunting season, regardless of the Indians, 
the fearless trapper wandered far and near in search of 
signs. His nerves were in a state of tension, his mind 



262 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

always clear, and his head cool. His trained eye scruti- 
nized every part of the country, and in an instant he could 
detect anything that was strange. A turned leaf, a blade 
of grass pressed down, the uneasiness of wild animals, the 
actions of the birds, were all to him paragraphs written in 
Nature's legible hand. 

All the wits of the wily savage were called into play to 
gain an advantage over the plucky white man ; but with 
the resources natural to a civilized mind, the hunter seldom 
failed, under equal chance, to circumvent the cunning of 
the red man. Sometimes, following his trail for weeks, 
the Indian watched him set his traps on some timbered 
stream, and crawling up the bed of it, so that he left 
no tracks, he lay in the bushes until his victim came to 
examine his traps. Then, when he approached within a 
few feet of the ambush, whiz ! flew the home-drawn arrow, 
which never failed at such close quarters to bring the un- 
suspecting hunter to the ground. But for one white scalp 
that dangled in the smoke of an Indian's lodge, a dozen 
black ones, at the end of the season, ornamented the camp- 
fires of the rendezvous where the furs were sold. 

In the camp, if he was a very successful hunter, all the 
appliances for preparing the skins for market were at 
hand ; if he had a squaw for a wife, she did all the hard 
work, as usual. Close to the entrance of their skin 
lodge was the " graining-block," a log of wood with the 
bark stripped off and perfectly smooth, set obliquely in 
the ground, on which the hair was removed from the 
deerskins which furnished moccasins and dresses for both 
herself and her husband. Then there were stretching 
frames on which the skins were placed to undergo the 
process of " dubbing " ; that is, the removal of all flesh 
and fatty particles adhering to the skin. The "dubber" 
was made of the stock of an elk's horn, with a piece of 
iron or steel inserted in the end, forming a sharp knife. 



■' 

, ■ San 

I 
■ ul o 

■pod, in •' 

thoj , ii ready f 

bject o 

id ; then they fell - • 

he expei • tnirna] 



J . 



: i 

. i ' i ing ofl j thai 

. . 

, . | ; , ] , , 

. . . , ; 



HUNTING ON A BEAVER STREAM, 1840 



TKAPPERS 263 

The last process the deerskin underwent before it was 
soft and pliable enough for making into garments, was the 
" smoking." This was effected by digging a round hole in 
the ground, and lighting in it an armful of rotten wood or 
punk ; then sticks were planted around the hole, and their 
tops brought together and tied. The skins were placed 
on this frame, and all openings by which the smoke might 
escape being carefully stopped, in ten or twelve hours they 
were thoroughly cured and ready for immediate use. 

The beaver was the main object of the hunter's quest ; 
its skins were once worth from six to eight dollars a 
pound ; then they fell to only one dollar, which hardly 
paid the expenses of traps, animals, and equipment for the 
hunt, and was certainly no adequate remuneration for the 
hardships, toil, and danger undergone by the trappers. 

The beaver was once found in every part of North 
America, from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, but has 
so retired from the encroachments of civilized man, that 
it is only to be met with occasionally on some tributary to 
the remote mountain streams. 

The old trappers always aimed to set their traps so 
that the beaver would drown when taken. This was ac- 
complished by sinking the trap several inches under water, 
and driving a stake through a ring on the end of the chain 
into the bottom of the creek. When the beaver finds 
himself caught, he pitches and plunges about until his 
strength is exhausted, when he sinks down and is 
drowned, but if he succeeds in getting to the shore, he 
always extricates himself by gnawing off the leg that is 
in the jaws of the trap. 

The captured animals were skinned, and the tails, which 
are a great dainty, carefully packed into camp. The skin 
was then stretched over a hoop or framework of willow 
twigs and allowed to dry, the flesh and fatty substance 
adhering being first carefully scraped off. When dry, it 



264 THE OLD SANTA EE TRAIL 

was folded into a square sheet, the far turned inwards, 
and the bundle, containing twenty skins, tightly pressed 
and tied, was ready for transportation. The beaver after 
the hide is taken off weighs about twelve pounds, and 
its flesh, although a little musky, is very fine. Its tail, 
which is flat and oval in shape, is covered with scales 
about the size of those of a salmon. It was a great deli- 
cacy in the estimation of the old trapper ; he separated 
it from the body, thrust a stick in one end of it, and held 
it before the fire with the scales on. In a few moments 
large blisters rose on the surface, which were very easily 
removed. The tail was then perfectly white, and deli- 
cious. Next to the tail the liver was another favourite of 
the trapper, and when properly cooked it constituted a 
delightful repast. 

After the season was over, or the hunter had loaded all 
his pack-animals, he proceeded to the " rendezvous," where 
the buyers were to congregate for the purchase of the fur, 
the locality of which had been agreed upon when the 
hunters started out on their expedition. One of these 
was at Bent's old fort and one at Pueblo ; another at 
" Brown's Hole " on Green River, and there were many 
more on the great streams and in the mountains. There 
the agents of the fur companies and traders waited for the 
arrival of the trappers, with such an assortment of goods as 
the hardy men required, including, of course, an immense 
supply of whiskey. The trappers dropped in day after 
day, in small bands, packing their loads of beaver-skins, 
not infrequently to the value of a thousand dollars each, 
the result of one hunt. 

The rendezvous was frequently a continuous scene of 
gambling, brawling, and fighting, so long as the improvi- 
dent trapper's money lasted. Seated around the large 
camp-fires, cross-legged in Indian fashion, with a blanket 
or buffalo-robe spread before them, groups were playing 



TRAPPERS 265 

cards, — euchre, seven-up, and poker, the regular mountain 
games. The usual stakes were beaver-skins, which were 
current as coin. When their fur was all gone, their horses, 
mules, rifles, shirts, hunting packs, and trousers were 
staked. Daring professional gamblers made the rounds 
of the camps, challenging each other to play for the trap- 
per's highest stakes, — his horse, or his squaw, if he had 
one, — and it is told of one great time that two old trappers 
played for one another's scalps! "There goes hoss and 
beaver," was a common mountain expression when any 
severe loss was sustained, and shortly " hoss and beaver " 
found their way into the pockets of the unconscionable 
gamblers. 

Frequently a trapper would squander the entire product 
of his hunt, amounting to hundreds of dollars, in a couple 
of hours. Then, supplied with another outfit, he left 
the rendezvous for another expedition, which had the 
same result time after time, although one good hunt would 
have enabled him to return to the settlements and live a 
life of comparative ease. 

It is told of one old Canadian trapper, who had re- 
ceived as much as fifteen thousand dollars for beaver 
during his life in the mountains, extending over twenty 
years, that each season he had resolved in his mind to go 
back to Canada, and with this object in view always con- 
verted his furs into cash ; but a fortnight at the rendez- 
vous always " cleaned him out," and at the end of the 
twenty years he had not even enough credit to get a plug 
of tobacco. 

Trading with the Indians in the primitive days of the 
border was just what the word signifies in its radical 
interpretation, — a system of barter exclusively. No money 
was used in the transaction, as it was long afterward 
before the savages began to learn something of the value 
of currency from their connection with the sutler's and 



266 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

agency stores established on reservations and at military 
posts on the plains and in the mountains. In the early 
days, if an Indian by any chance happened to get posses- 
sion of a piece of money (only gold or silver was recog- 
nized as a medium of exchange in the remote West), he 
would immediately fashion it into some kind of an orna- 
ment with which to adorn his person. Some tribes, how- 
ever, did indulge in a sort of currency, worthless except 
among themselves. This consisted of rare shells, such 
as the Oligachuck, so called, of the Pacific coast nations, 
used by them within my own recollection, as late as 
1858. 

The poor Indian, as might have been expected, was 
generally outrageously swindled ; in fact, I am inclined 
to believe, always. I never was present on an occasion 
when he was not. 

The savage's idea of values was very crude until the 
government, in attempting to civilize and make a gentle- 
man of him, has transformed him into a bewildered 
child. Very soon after his connection with the white 
trader, he learned that a gun was more valuable than a 
knife ; but of their relative cost to manufacture he had 
no idea. For these reasons, obviously, he was always at 
the mercy of the unscrupulous trader who came to his 
village, or met him at the rendezvous to barter for his 
furs. I know that the price of every article he desired 
was fixed by the trader, and never by the Indian, con- 
sequently he rarely got the best of the bargain. 

Uncle John Smith, Kit Carson, L. B. Maxwell, Uncle 
Dick Wooton, and a host of other well-known Indian 
traders, long since dead, have often told me that the first 
thing they did on entering a village with a pack-load of 
trinkets to barter, in the earlier daj r s before the whites had 
encroached to any great extent, was to arrange a schedule 
of prices. They would gather a large number of sticks, each 



TRAPPERS 267 

one representing an article they had brought. With these 
crude symbols the Indian made himself familiar in a little 
while, and when this preliminary arrangement had been 
completed, the trading began. The Indian, for instance, 
would place a buffalo-robe on the ground ; then the trader 
commenced to lay down a number of the sticks, represent- 
ing what he was willing to give for the robe. The Indian 
revolved the transaction in his mind until he thought he 
was getting a fair equivalent according to his ideas, then 
the bargain was made. It was claimed by these old traders, 
when they related this to me, that the savage generally 
was not satisfied, always insisting upon having more sticks 
placed on the pile. I suspect, however, that the trader was 
ever prepared for this, and never gave more than he origi- 
nally intended. The price of that initial robe having been 
determined on, it governed the price of all the rest for the 
whole trade, regardless of size or fineness, for that day. 
What was traded for was then placed by the Indian on 
one side of the lodge, and the trader put what he was to 
give on the other. After prices had been agreed upon, 
business went on very rapidly, and many thousand dollars' 
worth of valuable furs were soon collected by the suc- 
cessful trader, which he shipped to St. Louis and- con- 
verted into gold. 

In a few years, relatively, the Indian began to appreciate 
the value of our medium of exchange and the power it 
gave him to secure at the stores in the widely scattered 
hamlets and at the military posts on the plains, those things 
he coveted, at a fairer equivalent than in the uncertain 
and complicated method of direct barter. It was not very 
long after the advent of the overland coaches on the Santa 
Fe Trail, that our currency, even the greenbacks, had 
assumed a value to the savage, which he at least partially 
understood. Whenever the Indians successfully raided 
the stages the mail sacks were no longer torn to pieces or 



268 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

thrown aside as worthless, but every letter was carefully 
scrutinized for possible bills. 

I well remember, when the small copper cent, with its 
spread eagle upon it, was first issued, about the year 1857, 
how the soldiers of a frontier garrison where I was 
stationed at the time palmed them off upon the simple 
savages as two dollar and a half gold pieces, which they 
resembled as long as they retained their brightness, and 
with which the Indians were familiar, as many were 
received by the troops from the paymaster every two 
months, the savages receiving them in turn for horses and 
other things purchased of them by the soldiers. 

I have known of Indians who gave nuggets of gold for 
common calico shirts costing two dollars in that region 
and seventy-five cents in the States, while the lump of 
precious metal was worth, perhaps, five or seven dollars. 
As late as twenty-eight years ago, I have traded for beau- 
tifully smoke-tanned and porcupine-embroidered buffalo- 
robes for my own use, giving in exchange a mere loaf of 
bread or a cupful of brown sugar. 

Very early in the history of the United States, in 1786, 
the government, under the authority of Congress, estab- 
lished a plan of trade with the Indians. It comprised sup- 
plying all their physical wants without profit ; factories, 
or stations as they were called, were erected at points that 
were then on the remote frontier ; where factors, clerks, 
and interpreters were stationed. The factors furnished 
goods of all kinds to the Indians, and received from them 
in exchange furs and peltries. There was an officer in 
charge of all these stations called the superintendent of 
Indian trade, appointed by the President. As far back 
as 1821, there were stations at Prairie du Chien, Fort 
Edward, Fort Osage, with branches at Chicago, Green 
Bay in Arkansas, on the Red River, and other places in 
the then far West. These stations were movable, and 



TRAPPERS 269 

changed from time to time to suit the convenience of the 
Indians. In 1822 the whole system was abolished by 
act of Congress, and its affairs wound up, the American 
Fur Company, the Missouri Fur Company, and a host of 
others having by that time become powerful. Like the 
great corporations of to-day, they succeeded in supplanting 
the government establishments. Of course, the Indians 
of the remote plains, which included all the vast region 
west of the Missouri River, never had the benefits of the 
government trading establishments, but were left to the 
tender mercies of the old plainsmen and trappers. 

Until the railroad reached the mountains, when the 
march of a wonderful immigration closely followed, usurp-, 
ing the lands claimed by the savages, and the latter were 
driven, perforce, upon reservations, the winter camps of 
the Kiowas, Arapahoes, and Cheyennes were strung along 
the Old Trail for miles, wherever a belt of timber on the 
margin of the Arkansas, or its tributaries, could be found 
large enough to furnish fuel for domestic purposes and 
cottonwood bark for the vast herds of ponies in the severe 
snow-storms. 

At these various points the Indians congregated to 
trade with the whites. As stated, Bent's Fort, the Pue- 
blo Fort, and Big Timbers were favourite resorts, and the 
trappers and old hunters passed a lively three or four 
months every year, indulging in the amusements I have 
referred to. They were also wonderful story-tellers, and 
around their camp-fires many a tale of terrible adventure 
with Indians and vicious animals was nightly related. 

Baptiste Brown was one of the most famous trappers. 
Few men had seen more of wild life in the great prairie 
wilderness. He had hunted with nearly every tribe of 
Indians on the plains and in the mountains, was often at 
Bent's Fort, and his soul-stirring narratives made him 
a most welcome guest at the camp-fire. 



270 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

He lived most of his time in the Wind River Moun- 
tains, in a beautiful little valley named after him " Brown's 
Hole." It has a place on the maps to-day, and is on 
what was then called Prairie River, or Sheetskadee, by 
the Indians ; it is now known as Green River, and is the 
source of the great Colorado. 

The valley, which is several thousand feet above the sea- 
level, is about fifteen miles in circumference, surrounded 
by lofty hills, and is aptly, though not elegantly, char- 
acterized as a "hole." The mountain-grass is of the 
most nutritious quality ; groves of cottonwood trees and 
willows are scattered through the sequestered spot, and 
the river, which enters it from the north, is a magnificent 
stream ; in fact, it is the very ideal of a hunter's head- 
quarters. 

The temperature is very equable, and at one time, years 
ago, hundreds of trappers made it their winter quarters. 
Indians, too, of all the northern tribes, but more especially 
the Arapahoes, frequented it to trade with the white men. 

Baptiste Brown was a Canadian who spoke villanous 
French and worse English ; his vocabulary being largely 
interspersed with "enfant de garce"- " sacre" " sacre 
enfant," and " damn " until it was a difficult matter to 
tell what he was talking about. 

He was married to an Arapahoe squaw, and his strange 
wooing and winning of the dusky maiden is a thrilling 
love-story. 

Among the maidens who came with the Arapahoes, 
when that tribe made a visit to " Brown's Hole " one 
winter for the purpose of trading with the whites, was a 
young, merry, and very handsome girl, named " Unami," 
who after a few interviews completely captured Baptiste's 
heart. Nothing was more common, as I have stated, than 
marriages between the trappers and a beautiful redskin. 
Isolated absolutely from women of his own colour, the poor 



TRAPPERS 271 

mountaineer forgets he is white, which, considering the 
embrowning influence of constant exposure and sunlight, 
is not so marvellous after all. For a portion of the year 
there is no hunting, and then idleness is the order of the 
day. At such times the mountaineer visits the lodges of 
his dark neighbours for amusement, and in the spirited 
dance many a heart is lost to the squaws. The young 
trapper, like other enamoured ones of his sex in civiliza- 
tion, lingers around the house of his fair sweetheart while 
she transforms the soft skin of the doe into moccasins, 
ornamenting them richly with glittering beads or the 
coloured quills of the porcupine, all the time lightening 
the long hours with the plain-songs of their tribe. It 
was upon an occasion of this character that Baptiste, 
then in the prime of his youthful manhood, first loved 
the dark-eyed Arapahoe. 

The course open to him was to woo and win her ; but 
alas ! savage papas are just like fathers in the best civili- 
zation — the only difference between them is that the 
former are more open and matter-of-fact, since in savage 
etiquette a consideration is required in exchange for the 
daughter, which -belongs exclusively to the parent, and 
must be of equal marketable value to the girl. 

The usual method is to select your best horse, take him 
to the lodge of your inamorata's parents, tie him to a tree, 
and walk away. If the animal is considered a fair ex- 
change, matters are soon settled satisfactorily ; if not, other 
gifts must be added. 

At this juncture poor Baptiste was in a bad fix ; he 
had disposed of all his season's earnings for his winter's 
subsistence, much of which consisted of an ample supply 
of whiskey and tobacco ; so he had nothing left wherewith 
to purchase the indispensable horse. Without the animal 
no wife was to be had, and he was in a terrible predica- 
ment ; for the hunting season was long since over, and it 



272 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

wanted a whole month of the time for a new starting 
out. 

Baptiste was a very determined man, however, and he 
.shouldered his rifle, intent on accomplishing by a laborious 
prosecution of the chase the means of winning his loved 
one from her parents, notwithstanding that the elements 
and the times were against him. He worked industriously, 
and after many days was rewarded by a goodly supply of 
beavers, otters, and mink which he had trapped, besides 
many a deerskin whose wearer he had shot. Returning 
to his lodge, where he cached his peltry, he again started 
out for the forest with hope filling his heart. Three 
weeks passed in indifferent success, when one morning, 
having entered a deep canon, which evidently led out to 
an open prairie where he thought game might be found, 
while busy cutting his way through a thicket of briers 
with his knife, he suddenly came upon a little valley, 
where he saw what caused him to retrace his footsteps 
into the thicket. 

And here it is necessary to relate a custom peculiar to all 
Indian tribes. No young man, though his father were the 
greatest chief in the nation, can range himself among the 
warriors, be entitled to enter the marriage state, or enjoy 
any other rights of savage citizenship until he shall have 
performed some act of personal bravery and daring, or be 
sprinkled with the blood of his enemies. In the early 
springtime, therefore, all the young men who are of the 
proper age band themselves together and take to the for- 
est in search — like the knight-errant of old' — of advent- 
ure and danger. Having decided upon a secluded and 
secret spot, they collect a number of poles from twenty to 
thirty feet in length, and, lashing them together at the 
small ends, form a huge conical lodge, which they cover 
with grass and boughs. Inside they deposit various 
articles, with which to " make medicine." or as a propitia- 



TRAPPERS 273 

tory offering to the Great Spirit ; generally a green buf- 
falo head, kettles, scalps, blankets, and other things of 
value, of which the most prominent and revered is the 
sacred pipe. The party then enters the lodge and the first 
ceremony is smoking this pipe. One of the young men 
fills it with tobacco and herbs, places a coal on it from 
the fire that has been already kindled in. the lodge, and, 
taking the stem in his mouth, inhales the smoke and ex- 
pels it through his nostrils. The ground is touched 
with the bowl, the four points of the compass are in turn' 
saluted, and with various ceremonies it makes the round of 
the lodge. After many days of feasting and dancing the 
party is ready for a campaign, when they abandon the 
lodge, and it is death for any one else to enter, or by any 
means to desecrate it while its projectors are absent. 

It was upon one of these mystic lodges that Baptiste 
had accidentally stumbled, and strange thoughts flashed 
through his mind : for within the sacred place were arti- 
cles, doubtless, of value more than sufficient to purchase 
the necessary horse with which he could win the fair 
Unami. Baptiste was sorely tempted, but there was an 
instinctive respect for religion in the minds of the old 
trappers, and Brown had too much honour to think of rob- 
bing the Indian temple, although he distinctly remembered 
a time when a poor white trapper, having been robbed 
of his poncho at the beginning of winter, made free 
with a blanket he had found in one of these Arapahoe 
sacred lodges. When he was brought before the medi- 
cine men of the tribe, charged with the sacrilege, his 
defence, that, having been robbed, the Great Spirit took 
pity on him and pointed out the blanket and ordered 
him to clothe himself, was considered good, on the 
theory that the Great Spirit had an undoubted right to 
give away his own property ; consequently the trapper 
was set free. 



274 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Brown, after considering the case, was about to move 
away, when a hand was laid on his shoulder, and turning 
round there stood before him an Indian in full war-paint. 

The greeting was friendly, for the young savage was 
the brother of Baptiste's love, to whom he had given 
many valuable presents during the past season. 

" My white brother is very wakeful ; he rises early." 

Baptiste laughed, and replied : " Yes, because my lodge 
is empty. If I had Unami for a wife, I would not have 
to get out before the sun ; and I would always have a 
soft seat for her brother ; he will be a great warrior." 

The j'oung brave shook his head gravely, as he pointed 
to his belt, Avhere not a scalp was to be seen, and said : 
" Five moons have gone to sleep and the Arapahoe 
hatchet has not been raised. The Blackfeet are dogs, and 
hide in their holes." 

Without adding anything to this hint that none of the 
young men had been able to fulfil their vows, the discon- 
solate savage led the way to the camp of the other 
Arapahoes, his companions in the quest for scalps. 
Baptiste was very glad to see the face of a fellow-creature 
once more, and he cheerfully followed the footsteps of the 
young brave, which were directed away from the medi- 
cine lodge toward the rocky canon which he had already 
travelled that morning, where in the very centre of the 
dark defile, and within twenty feet of where he had re- 
cently passed, was the camp of the disappointed band. 
Baptiste was cordially received, and invited to share the 
meal of which the party were about to partake, after 
which the pipe was passed around. In a little while the 
Indians began to talk among themselves by signs, which 
made Baptiste feel somewhat uncomfortable, for it was 
apparent that he was the object of their interest. 

They had argued that Brown's skin indicated that he 
belonged to the great tribe of their natural enemies, and 



TRAPPERS 275 

with the blood of a white on their garments, they would 
have fulfilled the terms of their vow to their friends and 
the Great Spirit. 

Noticing the trend of the debate, which would lead his 
friend into trouble, the brother of Unami arose, and wav- 
ing his hand said : — 

" The Arapahoe is a warrior ; his feet outstrip the 
fleetest horse ; his arrow is as the lightning of the Great 
Spirit ; he is very brave. But a cloud is between him 
and the sun ; he cannot see his enemy ; there is yet no 
scalp in his lodge. The Great Spirit is good ; he sends a 
victim, a man whose skin is white, but his heart is very 
red ; the pale-face is a brother, and his long knife is 
turned from his friends, the Arapahoes ; but the Great 
Spirit is all-powerful. ' My brother " — pointing to Bap- 
tiste — "is very full of blood; he can spare a little to 
stain the blankets of the young men, and his heart shall 
still be warm ; I have spoken."' 

As Baptiste expressed it : " Sacre enfant de garce ; damn, 
de ting vas agin my grain, but de young Arapahoe he 
have saved my life." 

Loud acclamation followed the speech of Unami's 
brother, and many of those most clamorous against the 
white trapper, being actuated by the earnest desire of 
returning home with their vow accomplished, when they 
would be received into the list of warriors, and have 
wives and other honours, were unanimous in agreeing to 
the proposed plan. 

A flint lancet was produced, Baptiste's arm was bared, 
and the blood which flowed from the slight wound was 
carefully distributed, and scattered over the robes of the 
delighted Arapahoes. 

The scene which followed was quite unexpected to 
Baptiste, who was only glad to escape the death to which 
the majority had doomed him. The Indians, perfectly 



276 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

satisfied that their vow of shedding an enemy's blood had 
been fulfilled, were all gratitude ; and to testify that 
gratitude in a substantial manner each man sought his 
pack, and laid at the feet of the surprised Baptiste a rich 
present. One gave an otter skin, another that of a 
buffalo, and so on until his wealth in furs outstripped his 
most sanguine expectations from his hunt. The brother of 
Unami stood passively looking on until all the others 
had successively honoured his guest, when he advanced 
toward Baptiste, leading by its bridle a magnificent horse, 
fully caparisoned, and a large pack-mule. To refuse 
would have been the most flagrant breach of Indian eti- 
quette, and beside, Brown was too alive to the advantage 
that would accrue to him to be other than very thankful. 

The camp was then broken up, and the kind savages 
were soon lost to Baptiste's sight as they passed down the 
canon ; and he, as soon as he had gained a little strength, 
for he was weak from the blood he had shed in the good 
cause, mounted his horse, after loading the mule with 
his gifts, and made the best of his way to his lonely 
lodge, where he remained several days. He then sold 
his furs at a good price, as it was so early in the season, 
bartered for a large quantity of knives, beads, powder, 
and balls, and returned to the Arapahoe village, where 
the horse was considered a fair exchange for the pretty 
Unami ; and from that day, for over thirty years, they 
lived as happy as any couple in the highest civilization. 

The fate of the Pueblo, where the trappers and 
hunters had such good times in the halcyon days of the 
border, like that which befell nearly all the trading-posts 
and- ranches on the Old Santa Fe Trail, was to be par- 
tially destroyed by the savages. During the early 
months of the winter of 185-4, the Utes swept down 
through the Arkansas valley, leaving a track of blood 
behind them, and frightening the settlers so thoroughly 



TRAPPERS 



277 



that many left the country never to return. The out- 
break was as sudden as it was devastating. The Pueblo 
was captured by the savages, and every man, woman, 
and child in it murdered, with the exception of one aged 
Mexican, and he was so badly wounded that he died in a 
few days. 

His story was that the Utes came to the gates of the 
fort on Christmas morning, professing the greatest friend- 
ship, and asking permission to be allowed to come inside 
and hold a peace conference. All who were in the fort at 
the time were Mexicans, and as their cupidity led them 
to believe that they could do some advantageous trading 
with the Indians, they foolishly permitted the whole band 
to enter. The result was that a wholesale massacre fol- 
lowed. There were seventeen persons in all quartered 
there, only one of whom escaped death, — the old man 
referred to, — and a woman and her. two children, who 
were carried off as captives ; but even she was killed 
before the savages had gone a mile from the place. What 
became of the children was never known ; they probably 
met the same fate. 




JndidnPueb/o 



<£&< 



CHAPTER XV 

UNCLE JOHN SMITH A FAMOUS TRAPPER, GUIDE, AND IN- 
TERPRETER HIS MARRIAGE WITH A CHEYENNE SQUAW 

AN AUTOCRAT AMONG THE PEOPLE OF THE PLAINS AND 

MOUNTAINS THE MEXICANS HELD HIM IN GREAT DREAD 

HIS WONDERFUL RESEMBLANCE TO PRESIDENT ANDREW 

JOHNSON INTERPRETER AND GUIDE ON GENERAL SHERI- 

DAN'S WINTER EXPEDITION AGAINST THE ALLIED PLAINS 
TRIBES HIS STORIES AROUND THE CAMP-FIRE 



Pdppoo/e 



ANY of the men of the 
border were blunt in 
manners, rude in speech, 
driven to the absolute 
liberty of the far West 
with better natures shat- 
tered and hopes blasted, 
to seek in the exciting life 
of t lie plainsman and moun- 
taineer oblivion of some 
. incidents of their youth- 
ful days, which were 
better forgotten. Yet 
these aliens from soci- 
ety, these strangers to the 
refinements of civilization, 
who would tear off a bloody scalp even with grim smiles 
of satisfaction, were fine fellows, full of the milk of human 
kindness, and would share their last slapjack with ;i 
hungry stranger. 

278 




rPplfciSP 



UNCLE JOHN SMITH 279 

Uncle John Smith, as he was known to every trapper, 
trader, and hunter from the Yellowstone to the Gila, was 
one of the most famous and eccentric men of the early 
days. In 1826, as a boy, he ran away from St. Louis with 
a party of Santa Fe traders, and so fascinated was he with 
the desultory and exciting life, that he chose to sit cross- 
legged, smoking the long Indian pipe, in the comfortable 
buffalo-skin teepee, rather than cross legs on the broad 
table of his master, a tailor to whom he had been ap- 
prenticed when he took French leave from St. Louis. 

He spent his first winter with the Blackfeet Indians, 
but came very near losing his scalp in their continual 
quarrels, and therefore allied himself with the more peace- 
able Sioux. Once while on the trail of a horse-stealing 
band of Arapahoes near the head waters of the Arkansas, 
the susceptible young hunter fell in love with a very 
pretty Cheyenne squaw, married her, and remained true 
to the object of his early affection during all his long and 
eventful life, extending over a period of forty years. For 
many decades he lived with his dusky wife as the Indians 
did, having been adopted by the tribe. He owned a large 
number of horses, which constituted the wealth of the 
plains Indians, upon the sale of which he depended almost 
entirely for his subsistence. He became very powerful in 
the Cheyenne nation ; was regarded as a chief, taking an 
active part in the councils, and exercising much authority. 
His excellent judgment as a trader with the various bands 
of Indians while he was employed by the great fur com- 
panies made his services invaluable in the strange business 
complications of the remote border. Besides understand- 
ing the Cheyenne language as well as his native tongue, 
he also spoke three other Indian dialects, French, and 
Spanish, but with many Western expressions that some- 
times grated harshly upon the grammatical ear. 

He became a sort of autocrat on the plains and in the 



280 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

mountains ; and for an Indian or Mexican to attempt to 
effect a trade without Uncle John Smith having something 
to say about it, and its conditions, was hardly possible. 
The New Mexicans often came in small parties to his 
Indian village, their burros packed with dry pumpkin, 
corn, etc., to trade for buffalo-robes, bearskins, meat, and 
ponies ; and Smith, who knew his power, exacted tribute, 
which was always paid. At one time, however, when 
for some reason a party of strange Mexicans refused, 
Uncle John harangued the people of the village, and 
called the young warriors together, who emptied every 
sack of goods belonging to the cowering Mexicans on the 
ground, Smith ordering the women and children to help 
themselves, an order which was obeyed with alacrity. The 
frightened Mexicans left hurriedly for El Valle de Taos, 
whence they had come, crossing themselves and uttering 
thanks to Heaven for having retained their scalps. This 
and other similar cases so intimidated the poor Greasers, 
and impressed them so deeply with a sense of Smith's 
power, that, ever after, his permission to trade was craved 
by a special deputation of the parties, accompanied by 
peace-offerings of corn, pumpkin, and pinole. At one time, 
when Smith was journeying by himself a day's ride from the 
Cheyenne village, he was met by a party of forty or more 
corn traders, who, instead of putting such a bane to their 
prospects speedily out of the way, gravely asked him if 
they could proceed, and offered him every third robe they 
had to accompany them, which he did. Indeed, he be- 
came so regardless of justice, in his condescension to the 
natives of New Mexico, that the governor of that prov- 
ince offered a reward of five hundred dollars for him 
alive or dead, but fear of the Cheyennes was so prevalent 
that his capture was never even attempted. 

During Sheridan's memorable winter campaign against 
the allied tribes in 1868-69, Che old man, for he was then 



UNCLE JOHN SMITH 281 

about sixty, was my guide and interpreter. He shared 
my tent and mess, a most welcome addition to the few 
who sat at my table, and beguiled many a weary hour at 
night, after our tedious marches through the apparently 
interminable sand dunes and barren stretches of our mo- 
notonous route, with his tales of that period, more than 
half a century ago, when our mid-continent region was as 
little known as the topography of the planet Mars. 

At the close of December/ 1868, a few weeks after 
the battle of the Washita, I was camping with my com- 
mand on the bank of that historic stream in the Indian 
Territory, waiting with an immense wagon-train of sup- 
plies for the arrival of General Custer's command, the 
famous Seventh Cavalry, and also the Nineteenth Kansas, 
which were supposed to be lost, or wandering aimlessly 
somewhere in the region south of us. 

I had been ordered to that point by General Sheridan, 
with instructions to keep fires constantly burning on three 
or four of the highest peaks in the vicinity of our camp, 
until the lost troops should be guided to the spot by our 
signals. These signals were veritable pillars of fire by 
night and pillars of cloud by day ; for there was an 
abundance of wood and' hundreds of men ready to feed 
the hungry flames. 

It was more than two weeks before General Custer and 
his famished troopers began to straggle in. During that 
period of anxious waiting we lived almost exclusively on 
wild turkey, and longed for nature's meat, — the buffalo ; 
but there were none of the shaggy beasts at that time in 
the vicinity, so we had to content ourselves with the birds, 
of which we became heartily tired. 

For several days after our arrival on the creek, the men 
had been urging Uncle John to tell them another story of 
his early adventures; but the old trapper was in one of 
his silent moods — he frequently had them — and could 



282 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

not be persuaded to emerge from his shell of reticence 
despite their most earnest entreaties. I knew it would 
be of no use for me to press him. I could, of course, order 
him to any duty, and he would promptly obey ; but his 
tongue, like the hand of Douglas, was his own. I knew, 
also, that when he got ready, which would be when 
some incident of camp-life inspired him, he would be as 
garrulous as ever. 

One evening just before supper, a party of enlisted 
men who had been up the creek to catch fish, but had 
failed to take anything owing to the frozen condition 
of the stream, returned with the skeleton of a Cheyenne 
Indian which they had picked up on the battle-ground 
of a month previously — one of Custer's victims in his 
engagement with Black Kettle. This was the incentive 
Uncle John required. As he gazed on the bleached bones 
of the warrior, he said : " Boys, I'm going to tell you a 
good long story to-night. Them Ingin's bones has put 
me in mind of it. After we've eat, if you fellows wants 
to hear it, come down to headquarters tent, and I'll give 
it to you." 

Of course word was rapidly passed from one to another, 
as the whole camp was eager to hear the old trapper 
again. In a short time, every man not on guard or 
detailed to keep up the signals on the hills gathered 
around the dying embers of the cook's fire in front of 
my tent ; the enlisted men and teamsters in groups by 
themselves, the officers a little closer in a circle, in the 
centre of which Uncle John sat. 

The night was cold, the sky covered with great fleecy 
patches, through which the full moon, just fairly risen, 
appeared to be racing, under the effect of that optical illu- 
sion caused by the rapidly moving clouds. The coyotes had 
commenced their nocturnal concert in the timbered recesses 
of the creek not far away, and on the battle-field a short 



UNCLE JOHN SMITH 283 

distance beyond, as they battened and fought over the 
dead warriors and the carcasses of twelve hundred ponies 
killed in that terrible slaughter by the intrepid Custer 
and his troopers. The signals on the hills leaped into the 
crisp air like the tongues of dragons in the myths of the 
ancients ; in fact, the whole aspect of the place, as we sat 
around the blazing logs of our camp-fire, was weird and 
uncanny. 

Every one was eager for the veteran guide to begin his 
tale ; but as I knew he could not proceed without smok- 
ing, I passed him my pouch of Lone Jack — the brand far 
excellence in the army at that time. 

Uncle John loaded his corn-cob, picked up a live coal, 
and, pressing it down on the tobacco with his thumb, 
commenced to puff vigorously. As soon as his withered 
old face was half hidden in a cloud of smoke, he opened 
his story in his stereotyped way. I relate it just as he 
told it, but divested of much of its dialect, so difficult to 
write : — 

" Well, boys, it's a good many years ago, in June, 1845, 
if I don't disremember. I was about forty-three, and had 
been in the mountains and on the plains more than nine- 
teen seasons. You see, I went out there in 1826. There 
warn't no roads, nuthin' but the Santa Fe Trail, in them 
days, and Ingins and varmints. 

" There was four of us. Me, Bill Comstock, Dick 
Curtis, and Al Thorpe. Dick was took in by the Utes 
two years afterwards at the foot of the Spanish Peaks, 
and Al was killed by the Apaches at Pawnee Rock, 
in 1847. 

" We'd been trapping up on Medicine Bow for more 
than three years together, and had a pile of beaver, otter, 
mink, and other varmint's skins cached in the hills, which 
we know'd was worth a heap of money ; so we concluded 
to take them to the river that summer. We started from 



284 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

our trapping camp in April, and 'long 'bout the middle 
of June reached the Arkansas, near what is know'd as 
Point o' Rocks. You all know where them is on the 
Trail west of Fort Dodge, and how them rocks rises up 
out of the prairie sudden-like. We was a travelling 'long 
mighty easy, for we was all afoot, and had hoofed it 
the whole distance, mjore than six hundred miles, driving 
five good mules ahead of us. Our furs was packed on 
four of them, and the other carried our blankets, extry 
ammunition, frying-pan, coffee-pot, and what little grub 
we had, for we was obliged to depend upon buffalo, ante- 
lope, and jack-rabbits ; but, boys, I tell you there was 
millions of 'em in them days. 

" We had just got into camp at Point o' Rocks. It 
was 'bout four o'clock in the afternoon ; none of us 
carried watches, we always reckoned time by the sun, 
and could generally guess mighty close, too. It was 
powerful hot, I remember. We'd hobbled our mules 
close to the ledge, where the grass was good, so they 
couldn't be stampeded, as we know'd we was in the 
Pawnee country, and they was the most ornery Ingins 
on the plains. We know'd nothing that was white ever 
came by that part of the Trail without having a scrim- 
mage with the red devils. 

" Well, Ave hadn't more than took our dinner, when 
them mules give a terrible snort, and tried to break and 
run, getting, awful oneasy all to once. Them critters 
can tell when Ingins is around. They's better than a 
dozen dogs. I don't know how they can tell, but they 
just naturally do. 

" In less than five minutes after them mules began to 
worry, stopped eating, and had their ears pricked up 
a trying to look over the ledge towards the river, we 
heard a sharp firing down on the Trail, which didn't 
appear to be more than a hundred yards off. You ought 



UNCLE JOHN SMITH 285 

to seen us grab our rifles sudden, and run out from be- 
hind them rocks, where we was a camping, so comfortable- 
like, and just going to light our pipes for a good smoke. 
It didn't take us no time to get down on to the Trail, 
where we seen a Mexican bull train, that we know'd 
must have come from Santa Fe, and which had stopped 
and was trying to corral. More, than sixty painted 
Pawnees was a circling around the outfit, howling as 
only them can howl, and pouring a shower of arrows into 
the oxen. Some was shaking their buffalo-robes, trying 
to stampede the critters, so they could kill the men 
easier. 

" We lit out mighty lively, soon as we seen what was 
going on, and reached the head of the train just as the 
last wagon, that was furtherest down the Trail, nigh 
a quarter of a mile off, was cut out by part of the band. 
Then we seen a man, a woman, and a little boy jump out, 
and run to get shet of the Ingins what had cut out the 
wagon from the rest of the train. One of the red devils 
killed the man and scalped him, while the other pulled 
the woman up in front of him, and rid off into the sand 
hills, and out of sight in a minute. Then the one what 
had killed her husband started for the boy, who was 
a running for the train as fast as his little legs could go. 
But we was nigh enough then; and just as the Ingin was 
reaching down from his pony for the kid, Al Thorpe — lie 
was a powerful fine shot — draw'd up his gun and took 
the red cuss off his critter without the paint-bedaubed 
devil know"n' what struck him. 

" The boy, seeing us, broke and run for where we was, 
and I reckon the rest of the Ingins seen us then for the 
first time, too. We was up with the train now, which 
was kind o' halfway corralled, and Dick Curtis picked up 
the child, — he wa'rn't more than seven years old, — and 
throw'd him gently into one of the wagons, where he'd 



286 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

be out of the way ; for we know'd there was going to be 
considerable more fighting before night. We know'd, 
too, we Americans would have to do the heft of it, as 
them Mexican bull-whackers warn't much account, nohow, 
except to cavort around and swear in Spanish, which 
they hadn't done nothing else since we'd come up to the 
train ; besides, their miserable guns warn't much better 
than so many bows and arrows. 

" We Americans talked together for a few moments as 
to what was best to be did, while the Ingins all this time 
was keeping up a lively fire for them. We made as 
strong a corral of the wagons as we could, driving out 
what oxen the Mexicans had put in the one they had 
made, but you can't do much with only nine wagons, 
nohow. Fortunately, while we was fixing things, the 
red cusses suddenly retreated out of the range of our 
rifles, and we first thought they had cleared out for good. 
We soon discovered, however, they were only holding a 
pow-wow ; for in a few minutes back they come, mounted 
on their ponies, with all their fixin's and fresh war- 
paint on. 

" Then they commenced to circle around us again, com- 
ing a little nearer — Ingin fashion — every time they rid 
off and back. It wasn't long before they got in easy 
range, when they slung themselves on the off-side of their 
ponies and let fly their arrows and balls from under their 
critters' necks. Their guns warn't much 'count, being 
only old English muskets what had come from the Hudson 
Bay Fur Company, so they didn't do no harm that round, 
except to scare the Mexicans, which commenced to cross 
themselves and pray and swear. 

" We four Americans warn't idle when them Ingins 
come a charging up ; we kept our eye skinned, and 
whenever we could draw a bead, one of them tumbled off 
his pony, you bet ! When they'd come back for their 



UNCLE JOHN SMITH 287 

dead, — we'd already killed three of them, — we had a big 
advantage, wasted no shots, and dropped four of them ; 
one apiece, and you never heard Ingins howl so. It was 
getting kind o' dark by this time, and the varmints didn't 
seem anxious to fight any more, but went down to the 
river and scooted off into the sand hills on the other side. 
We waited more than half an hour for them, but as they 
didn't come back, concluded we'd better light out too. 
We told the Mexicans to yoke up, and as good luck would 
have it they found all the cattle close by, excepting them 
what pulled the wagon what the Ingins had cut out, and 
as it was wa} r down the Trail, we had to abandon it ; for 
it was too dark to hunt it up, as we had no time to fool 
away. 

"We put all our outfit into the train ; it wasn't loaded, 
but going empty to the Missouri, to fetch back a saw- 
mill for New Mexico. Then we made a soft bed in the 
middle wagon out of blankets for the kid, and rolled out 
'bout ten o'clock, meaning to put as many miles between 
us and them Ingins as the oxen could stand. We four 
hoofed it along for a while, then rid a piece, catching 
a nap now and then as best we could, for we was mon- 
strous tired. By daylight we'd made fourteen miles, and 
was obliged to stop to let the cattle graze. We boiled 
our coffee, fried some meat, and by that time the little 
boy waked. He'd slept like a top all night and hadn't 
no supper either ; so when I went to the wagon where he 
was to fetch him out, he just put them baby arms of his'n 
around my neck, and says, 'Where's mamma? ' 

"I tell you, boys, that nigh played me out. He had 
no idee, 'cause he was too young to realize what had hap- 
pened ; we know'd his pa was killed, but where his ma 
was, God only know'd ! " 

Here the old man stopped short in his narrative, made 
two or three efforts as if to swallow something that would 



288 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

not go down, while his eyes had a far-away look. Pres- 
ently he picked up a fresh coal from the fire, placed it on 
his pipe, which had gone out, then puffing vigorously for 
a few seconds, until his head was again enveloped in 
smoke, he continued : — 

" After I'd washed the little fellow's face and hands, I 
gave him a tin cup of coffee and some meat. You'd ought 
to seen him eat ; he was hungrier than a coyote. Then 
while the others was a watering and picketing the mules, 
I sot down on the grass and took the kid into my lap to 
have a good look at him ; for until now none of us had had 
a chance. 

"He was the purtiest child I'd ever seen ; great black 
eyes, and eyelashes that laid right on to his cheeks ; his 
hair, too, was black, and as curly as a young big-horn. 
I asked him what his name was, and he says, ' Paul. ' 
' Hain't you got no other name ? ' says I to him again, and 
he answered, ' Yes, sir,' for he was awful polite ; I noticed 
that. ' Paul Dale,' says he prompt-like, and them big 
eyes of his'n looked up into mine, as he says ' What be 
yourn ? ' I told him he must call me ' Uncle John,' 
and then he says again, as he put his arms around my 
neck, his little lips all a quivering, and looking so sorrow- 
ful, ' Uncle John, where's mamma ; why don't she come ? ' 

" Boys, I don't really know what I did say. A kind o' 
mist came before my eyes, and for a minute or two I 
didn't know nothing. I come to in a little while, and 
seeing Thorpe bringing up the mules from the river, 
where he'd been watering them, I says to Paul, to get his 
mind on to something else besides his mother, ' Don't you 
want to ride one of them mules when we pull out again ? ' 
The little fellow jumped off my lap, clapped his hands, 
forgetting his trouble all at once, child-like, and replied, 
' I do, Uncle John, can I ? ' 

" After we'd camped there 'bout three hours, the cattle 



UNCLE JOHN SMITH 289 

full of grass and all laying down chewing their cud, we 
concluded to move on and make a few miles before it 
grow'd too hot, and to get further from the Ingins, which 
we expected would tackle us again, as soon as they could 
get back from their camp, where we felt sure they had 
gone for reinforcements. ' 

" While the Mexicans was yoking up, me and Thorpe 
rigged an easy saddle on one of the mules, out of blankets, 
for the kid to ride on, and when Ave was all ready, to pull 
out, I histed him on, and you never see a youngster so 
tickled. 

" We had to travel mighty slow ; couldn't make more 
than eighteen miles a day with oxen, and that was in two 
drives, one early in the morning, and one in the evening 
when it was cool, a laying by and grazing when it was 
hot. We Americans walked along the Trail, and mighty 
slow walking it was ; 'bout two and a half miles an hour. 
I kept close to Paul, for I began to set a good deal of 
store by him ; lie seemed to cotton to me more than he 
did to the rest, wanting to stick near me most of the time 
as he rid on the mule. I wanted to find out something 
'bout his folks, where they'd come from ; so that when 
we got to Independence, perhaps I could turn him over 
to them as ought to have him ; though in my own mind 
I was just ornery enough to wish I might never find them, 
and he'd be obliged to stay with me. The boy was too 
young to tell what I wanted to find out ; all I could get 
out of him was they'd been living in Santa Fe since he 
was a baby, and that his papa was a preacher. I 'spect 
one of them missionaries 'mong the heathenish Greasers. 
He said they was going back to his grandma's in the 
States, but he could not tell where. I couldn't get noth- 
ing out of them Mexican bull-whackers neither, — what 
they know'd wasn't half as much as the kid, — and I had 
to give it up. 



290 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

" Well, we kept moving along without having any more 
trouble for a week ; them Ingins never following us as 
we 'lowed they would. 1 really enjoyed the trip such as 
I never had before. Paul he was so 'fectionate and smart, 
that he 'peared to fill a spot in my heart what had always 
been hollow until then. When he'd got tired of riding 
the mule or in one of the wagons, he'd come and walk 
along the Trail with me, a picking flowers, chasing the 
prairie-owls and such, until his little legs 'bout played 
out, when I'd hist him on his mule again. When we'd 
go into camp, Paul, he'd run and pick up buffalo-chips 
for the fire, and wanted to help all he could. Then when 
it came time to go to sleep, the boy would always get 
under my blankets and cuddle up close to me. He'd be 
sure to say his prayers first, though ; but it seemed so 
strange to me who hadn't heard a prayer for thirty years. 
I never tried to stop him, you may be certain of that. 
He'd ask God to bless his pa and ma, and wind up with 
' Bless Uncle John too.' Then I couldn't help hugging 
him right up tighter ; for it carried me back to Old Mis- 
souri, to the log-cabin in the woods where I was born, 
and used to say ' Now I lay me,' and ' Our Father ' at 
my ma's knee, when I was a kid like him. I tell you, 
boys, there ain't nothing that will take the conceit out of 
a man here on the plains, like the company of a kid what 
has been brought up right. 

" I reckon we'd been travelling about ten days since we 
left Point o' Rocks, and was on the other side of the Big 
Bend of the Arkansas, near the mouth of the Walnut, 
where Fort Zarah is now. We had went into camp at 
sundown, close to a big spring that's there yet. We 
drawed up the wagons into a corral on the edge of the 
river where there wasn't no grass for quite a long stretch ; 
we done this to kind o' fortify ourselves, for we expected 
to have trouble with the Ingins there, if anywhere, as we 



0NCLE JOHN SMITH 291 

warn't but seventeen miles from Pawnee Rock, the worst 
place on the whole Trail for them ; so we picked out that 
bare spot where they couldn't set fire to the prairie. It 
was long after dark when we eat our supper ; then we 
smoked our pipes, waiting for the oxen to fill themselves, 
which had been driven about a mile off where there was 
good grass. The Mexicans was herding them, and when 
they'd eat all they could hold, and was commencing to 
lay down, they was driven into the corral. Then all of 
us, except Comstock and Curtis, turned in ; they was to 
stand guard until 'bout one o'clock, when me and Thorpe 
was to change places with them and stay up until morn- 
ing ; for, you see, we was afraid to trust them Mexi- 
cans. 

"It seemed like we hadn't been asleep more than an hour 
when me and Thorpe was called to take our turn on 
guard. We got out of our blankets, I putting Paul into 
one of the wagons, then me and Thorpe lighted our pipes 
and walked around, keeping our eyes and ears open, 
watching the heavy fringe of timber on the creek mighty 
close, I tell you. Just as daylight was coming, we noticed 
that our mules, what was tied to a wagon in the corral, 
was getting uneasy, a pawing and snorting, with their 
long ears cocked up and looking toward the Walnut. 
Before I could finish saying to Thorpe, ' Them mules smells 
Ingins,' half a dozen or more of the darned cusses dashed 
out of the timber, yelling and shaking their robes, which, 
of course, waked up the whole camp. Me and Thorpe 
sent a couple of shots after them, that scattered the devils 
for a minute ; but we hadn't hit nary one, because it was 
too dark yet to draw a bead on them. We was certain there 
was a good many more of them behind the first that had 
charged us ; so we got all the men on the side of the cor- 
ral next to the Trail. The Ingins we know'd couldn't 
get behind us, on account of the river, and we was bound 



292 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

to make them fight where we wanted them to, if they 
meant to fight at all. 

" In less than a minute, quicker than I can tell you, 
sure enough, out they came again, only there was 'bout 
eighty of them this time. They made a dash at once, and 
their arrows fell like a shower of hail on the ground and 
against the wagon-sheets as the cusses swept by on their 
ponies. There wasn't anybody hurt, and our turn soon 
came. Just as they circled back, we poured it into them, 
killing six and wounding two. You see them Mexican 
guns had did some work that we didn't expect, and then 
we Americans felt better. Well, bo} r s, them varmints 
made four charges like that on to us before we could get 
shet of them ; but we killed as many as sixteen or eigh- 
teen, and they got mighty sick of it and quit ; they had 
only knocked over one Mexican, and put an arrow into 
Thorpe's arm. 

" I was amused at little Paul all the time the scrimmage 
was going on. He stood up in the wagon where I'd put 
him, a looking out of the hole behind where the sheet 
was drawed together, and every time an Ingin was tum- 
bled off his pony, he would clap his hands and yell, 'There 
goes another one, Uncle John ! ' 

" After their last charge, they rode off out of range, 
where they stood in little bunches talking to each other, 
holding some sort of a pow-wow. It riled us to see the 
darned cusses keep so far away from our rifles, because we 
wanted to lay a few more of them out, but was obliged to 
keep still and watch out for some new deviltry. We 
waited there until it was plumb night, not daring to move 
out yet ; but we managed to boil our coffee and fry slap- 
jacks and meat. 

" The oxen kept up a bellowing and pawing around the 
corral, for they was desperate hungry and thirsty, hadn't 
had nothing since the night before ; yet we couldn't help 



UNCLE JOHN SMITH 293 

them any, as we didn't know whether we was shet of the 
Ingins or not. We staid, patient-like, for two or three 
hours more after dark to see what the Ingins was going 
to do, as while we sot round our little fire of buffalo-chips, 
smoking our pipes, we could still hear the red devils a 
howling and chanting, while they picked up their dead 
laving along the river-bottom. 

"As soon as morning broke, — we'd ketched a nap now 
and then during the night, — we got ready for another 
charge of the Ingins, their favourite time being just 'bout 
daylight ; but there warn't hide or hair of an Ingin in 
sight. They'd sneaked off in the darkness long before 
the first streak of dawn ; had enough of fighting, I ex- 
pect. As soon as we discovered they'd all cleared out, we 
told the drivers to hitch up, and while they was yoking 
and watering, me 'n' Curtis and Comstock buried the 
dead Mexican on the bank of the river, as we didn't 
want to leave his bones to be picked by the coyotes, which 
was already setting on the sand hills watching and waiting 
for us to break camp. By the time we'd finished our job, 
and piled some rocks on his grave, so as the varmints 
couldn't dig him up, the train was strung out on the Trail, 
and then we rolled out mighty lively for oxen ; for the 
critters was hungrj 7 , and we had to travel three or four 
miles the other side of the Walnut, where the grass was 
green, before they could feed. The oxen seen it on the 
hills and they lit out almost at a trot. It was 'bout sun- 
up when we got there, when we turned the animals loose, 
corralled, and had breakfast. 

"After we'd had our smoke, all we had to do was to 
put in the time until five o'clock ; for we couldn't move 
before then, as it would be too hot by the time the oxen 
got filled. Paul and me went down to the creek fishing ; 
there was tremendous cat in the Walnut them days, and 
by noon we'd ketched five big beauties, which we took to 



294: THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

camp and cooked for dinner. After I'd had my smoke, 
Paul and me went back to the creek, where we stretched 
ourselves under a good-sized box-elder tree — there wasn't 
no shade nowhere else — and took a sleep, while Comstock 
and Curtis went jack-rabbit hunting across the river, as 
we was getting scarce of meat. 

" Thorpe, who was hit in the arm with an arrow, 
couldn't do much but nuss his wound ; so him and the 
Mexicans stood guard, a looking out for Ingins, as we 
didn't know but what the cusses might come- back and 
make another raid on us, though we really didn't expect 
they would have the gall to bother us any more — least not 
the same outfit what had fought us the day before. That 
evening, 'bout six o'clock, we rolled out again and went 
into camp late, having made twelve miles, and didn't see 
a sign of Ingins. 

" In ten days more we got to Independence without hav- 
ing no more trouble of no kind, and was surprised at our 
luck. At Independence we Americans left the train, sold 
our furs, got a big price, too, — each of us had a shot-bag 
full of gold and silver, more money than we know'd what 
to do with. Me, Curtis, and Thorpe concluded we'd buy 
a new outfit, consisting of another six-mule wagon, and 
harness, so we'd have a full team, meaning to go back to 
the mountains with the first big caravan what left. 

" All the folks in the settlement what seen Paul took a 
great fancy to him. Some wanted to adopt him, and some 
said I'd ought to take him to St. Louis and place him in an 
orphan asylum ; but I 'lowed if there was going to be any 
adopting done, I'd do it myself, 'cause the kid seemed now 
just as if he was my own ; besides the little fellow I know'd 
loved me and didn't want me to leave him. I had kin- 
folks in Independence, an old aunt, and me and Paul staid 
there. She had a young gal with her, and she learned 
Paul out of books ; so he picked up considei'able, as we 



UNCLE JOHN SMITH 295 

had to wait more than two months before Colonel St. 
Vrain's caravan was ready to start for New Mexico. 

" I bought Paul a coal-black pony, and had a suit of 
fine buckskin made for him out of the pelt of a black-tail 
deer I'd shot the winter before on Powder River. The 
seams of his trousers was heavily fringed, and with his 
white sombrero, a riding around town on his pony, he 
looked like one of them Spanish Dons what the papers 
nowadays has pictures of ; only he was smarter-looking 
than any Don I ever see in my life. 

"It was 'bout the last of August when we pulled out 
from Independence. Comstock staid with us until we got 
ready to go, and then lit out for St. Louis, and I hain't 
never seen him since. The caravan had seventy-five six- 
mule teams in it, without counting ours, loaded with dry- 
goods and groceries for Mora, New Mexico, where Colonel 
St. Vrain, the owner, lived and had a big store. We had 
no trouble with the Ingins going back across the plains ; 
we seen lots, to be siu-e, hanging on our trail, but they 
never attacked us ; we was too strong for them. 

" 'Bout the last of September we reached Bent's Old 
Fort, on the Arkansas, where the Santa Fe Trail crosses 
the river into New Mexico, and we camped there the night 
we got to it. 

" I know'd they had cows up to the fort ; so just before 
we was ready for supper, I took Paul and started to see 
if we couldn't get some milk for our coffee. It wasn't 
far, and we was camped a few hundred yards from the 
gate, just outside the wall. Well, we went into the 
kitchen, Paul right alongside of me, and there I seen a 
white woman leaning- over the adobe hearth a cooking 
— they had always only been squaws before. She natu- 
rally looked up to find out who was coming in, and when 
she seen the kid, all at once she give a scream, dropped 
the dish-cloth she had in her hand, made a break for Paul, 



296 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

throw'd her arms around him, nigh upsetting me, and 
says, while she was a sobbing and taking on dreadful, — ■ 

" ' My boy ! My boy ! Then I hain't prayed and begged 
the good Lord all these days and nights for nothing ! ' 
Then she kind o' choked again, while Paul, he says, as he 
hung on to her, — 

"'0 mamma ! mamma ! I know'd you'd come back ! 
I know'd you'd come back ! ' 

" Well, there, boys, I just walked out of that kitchen a 
heap faster than I'd come into it, and shut the door. 
When I got outside, for a few minutes I couldn't see 
nothing, I was worked up so. As soon as I come to, I 
went through the gate down to camp as quick as my legs 
would carry me, to tell Thorpe and Curtis that Paul had 
found his ma. They wanted to know all about it, but I 
couldn't tell them nothing, I was so dumfounded at the 
way things had turned out. We talked among ourselves 
a moment, then reckoned it was the best to go up to the 
fort together, and ask the woman how on earth she'd 
got shet of the Ingins what had took her off, and how it 
come she was cooking there. We started out and when 
we got into the kitchen, there was Paul and Mrs. Dale, 
and you never see no people so happy. They was just 
as wild as a stampeded steer ; she seemed to have growed 
ten years younger than when I first went up there, and 
as for Paul, he was in heaven for certain. 

"First we had to tell her how we'd got the kid, and 
how we'd learned to love him. All the time we was tell- 
ing of it, and our scrimmages with the Ingins, she was 
a crying and hugging Paul as if her heart was broke. 
After we'd told all we know'd, we asked her to tell us 
her story, which she did, and it showed she was a woman 
of grit and education. 

" She said the Ingins. what had captured her took her 
up to their camp on the Saw Log, a little creek north of 



UNCLE JOHN SMITH 297 

Fort Dodge, — you all know where it is, — ■ and there she 
staid that night. Early in the morning they all started 
for the north. She watched their ponies mighty close as 
they rid along that day, so as to find out which was the 
fastest ; for she had made up her mind to make her escape 
the first chance she got. She looked at the sun once in a 
while, to learn what course they was taking ; so that she 
could go hack when she got ready, strike the Sante Fe 
Trail, and get to some ranch, as she had seen several 
while passing through the foot-hills of the Raton Range 
when she was with the Mexican train. 

" It was on the night of the fourth day after they had left 
Saw Log, and had rid a long distance, — was more than a 
hundred miles on their journey, — when she determined 
to try and light out. The whole camp was fast asleep, for 
the Ingins was monstrous tired. She crawled out of the 
lodge where she'd heen put with some old squaws, and 
going to where the ponies had heen picketed, she took a 
little iron-gray she'd had her eye on, jumped on his hack, 
with only the lariat for a bridle and without any saddle, 
not even a blanket, took her bearings from the north star, 
and cautiously moved out. She started on a walk, until 
she'd got 'bout four miles from camp, and then struck a 
lope, keeping it up all night. By next morning she'd 
made some forty miles, and then for the first time since 
she'd left her lodge, pulled up and looked back, to see if 
any of the Ingins was following her. When she seen 
there wasn't a living thing in sight, she got off her pony, 
watered him out of a small branch, took a drink herself, 
but not daring to rest yet, mounted her animal again and 
rid on as fast as she could without wearing him out too 
quickly. 

" Hour after hour she rid on, the pony appearing to 
have miraculous endurance, until sundown. By that 
time she'd crossed the Saline, the Smoky Hill, and got to 



298 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

the top of the divide between that river and the Arkansas, 
or not more than forty miles from the Santa Fe Trail. 
Then her wonderful animal seemed to weaken ; she 
couldn't even make him trot, and she was so nearly played 
out herself, she could hardly set steady. What to do, she 
didn't know. The pony was barely able to move at a slow 
walk. She was afraid he would drop dead under her, 
and she was compelled to dismount, and in almost a 
minute, as soon as she laid down on the prairie, was fast 
asleep. 

" She had no idee how long she had slept when she 
woke up. The sun was only 'bout two hours high. 
Then she know'd she had been unconscious since sundown 
of the day before, or nigh twenty-four hours. Rubbing 
her eyes, for she was kind o' bewildered, and looking 
around, there she saw her pony as fresh, seemingby, as 
when she'd started. He'd had plenty to eat, for the grass 
was good, but she'd had nothing. She pulled a little 
piece of dried buffalo-meat out of her bosom, which she'd 
brought along, all she could find at the lodge, and now 
nibbled at that, for she was mighty hungry. She was 
terribly sore and stiff too, but she mounted at once and 
pushed on, loping and walking him by spells. Just at 
daylight she could make out the Arkansas right in front 
of her in the dim gray of the early morning, not very far 
off. On the west, the Raton Mountains loomed up like 
a great pile of blue clouds, the sight of which cheered 
her ; for she know'd she would soon reach the Trail. 

" It wasn't quite noon when she struck the Santa Fe 
Trail. When she got there, looking to the east, she saw 
in the distance, not more than three miles away, a large 
caravan coming, and then, almost wild with delight, she 
dismounted, sot down on the grass, and waited for it to 
arrive. In less than an hour, the train come up to where 
she was, and as good luck would have it, it happened to 



UNCLE JOHN SMITH 299 

be an American outfit, going to Taos with merchandise. 
As soon as the master of the caravan seen her setting on 
the prairie, he rid up ahead of the wagons, and she told 
him her story. He was a kind-hearted man ; had the train 
stop right there on the hank of the river, though he 
wasn't half through his day's drive, so as to make her 
comfortable as possible, and give her something to eat; 
for she was 'bout played out. He bought the Ingin pony, 
giving her thirty dollars for it, and after she had rested 
for some time, the caravan moved out. She rid in one of 
the wagons, on a bed of blankets, and the next evening 
arrived at Bent's Old Fort. There she found women- 
folks, who cared for her and nussed her ; for she was 
dreadfully sore and tired after her long ride. Then she 
was hired to cook, meaning to work until she'd earned 
enough to take her back to Pennsylvany, to her mother's, 
where she had started for when the Ingins attackted the 
train. 

" That night, after listening to her mirac'lous escape, 
we made up a ' pot ' for her, collecting 'bout eight hun- 
dred dollars. The master of Colonel St. Vrain's caravan, 
what had come out with us, told her he was going back 
again to the river in a couple of weeks, and he'd take her 
and Paul in without costing her a cent ; besides, she'd be 
safer than with any other outfit, as his train was a big 
one, and he had all American teamsters. 

" Next morning the caravan went on to Mora, and 
after we'd bid good-by to Mrs. Dale and Paul, before 
which I give the boy two hundred dollars for himself, 
me, Thorpe, and Curtis pulled out with our team north for 
Frenchman's Creek, and I never felt so miserable before 
nor since as I did parting with the kid that morning. 
I hain't never seen him since ; but he must be nigh forty 
now. Mebby he went into the war and was killed ; 
mebby he got to be a general, but I hain't forgot him." 



300 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Uncle John knocked the ashes out of his pipe, and 
without saying another word went into the tent. In a 
few moments the camp was as quiet as a country village 
on Sunday, excepting the occasional howling of a hungry 
wolf down in the timbered recesses of the Washita, or the 
crackling and sputtering of the signal fires on the hilltops. 

In a few days afterward, we were camping on Hack- 
berry Creek, in the Indian Territory. We had been 
living on wild turkey, as before for some time, and still 
longed for a change. At last one of my hunters suc- 
ceeded in bagging a 'dozen or more quails. Late that 
evening, when my cook brought the delicious little birds, 
beautifully spitted and broiled on peeled willow twigs, 
into my tent, I passed one to Uncle John. Much to the 
surprise of every one, he refused. He said, "Boys. I 
don't eat no quail ! "' 

We looked at him in astonishment ; for he was somewhat 
of a gourmand, and prided himself upon the " faculty," 
as he termed it, of being able to eat anything, from a 
piece of jerked buffalo-hide to the juiciest young antelope 
steak. 

I remonstrated with the venerable guide ; said to him, 
" You are making a terrible mistake, Uncle John. To- 
morrow I expect to leave here, and as we are going 
directly away from the buffalo country, we don't know 
when we shall strike fresh meat again. You'd better try 
one," and I again proffered one of the birds. 

" Boys," said he again, " I don't tech quail ; I hain't 
eat one for more than twenty years. One of the little 
cusses saved my life once, and I swore right thar and 
then that I would starve first ; and I have kept my oath, 
though I've seen the time mighty often sence I could 
a killed 'em with my quirt, when all I had to chaw on for 
four days was the soles of a greasy pair of old moccasins. 

"Well, boys, it's a good many years ago, — in June, 



UNCLE JOHN SMITH 301 

if I don't disremember, 18-17. We was a coming in from 
way up in Cache le Poudre and from Yellowstone Lake, 
whar we'd been a trapping for two seasons. We was a 
working our way slowly back to Independence, Missouri, 
where we was a going to get a new outfit. Let's see, 
there was me, and a man b} r the name of Boyd, and Lew 
Thorp, — Lew was a working for Colonel Boone at the 
time, — and two more men, whose names I disremember 
now, and a nigger wench we had for a cook. We had 
mighty good luck, and had a big pile of skins ; and the 
Indians never troubled us till we got dowu on Pawnee 
Bottom, this side of Pawnee Rock. We all of us had 
mighty good ponies, but Thorp had a team and wagon, 
which he was driving for Colonel Boone. 

" We had went into camp on Pawnee Bottom airly in 
the afternoon, and I told the boys to look out for Ingins 
— for I knowed ef we was to have any trouble with them 
it would be somewhere in that vicinity. But we didn't 
see a darned redskin that night, nor the sign of one. 

"The wolves howled considerable, and come pretty 
close to the fire for the bacon rinds we'd throwed away 
after supper. 

" You see the buffalo was scurse right thar then — it 
was the wrong time o' year. They generally don't get 
down on to the Arkansas till about September, and when 
they're scurse the wolves and coyotes are mighty sassy, 
and will steal a piece of bacon rind right out of the pan, 
if you don't watch 'em. So we picketed our ponies a 
little closer before we turned in, and we all went to sleep 
except one, who sort o' kept watch on the stock. 

" I was out o' my blankets mighty airly next morning, 
for I was kind o' suspicious. I could always tell when 
Ingins was prowling around, and I had a sort of pre- 
sentment something was going to happen — I didn't like 
the way the coyotes kept yelling — -so I rested kind o' 



302 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

oneasy like, and was out among the ponies by the first 
streak o' daylight. 

" About the time I could see things, I discovered three 
or four buffalo grazing off on the creek bottom, about a 
half-mile away, and I started for my rifle, thinking 1 
would examine her. 

" Pretty soon I seed Thorp and Boyd crawl out o' their 
blankets, too, and I called their attention to the buffalo, 
which was still feeding undisturbed. 

" We'd been kind o' scurse of fresh meat for a couple 
of weeks, — ever since we left the Platte, — except a jack- 
rabbit or cottontail, and I knowed the boys would be 
wanting to get a quarter or two of a good fat cow, if we 
could find one in the herd, so that was the reason I pointed 
'em out to 'em. 

" The dew, you see, was mighty heavy, and the grass in 
the bottom was as wet as if it had been raining for a 
month, and I didn't care to go down whar the buffalo was 
just then — I knowed we had plenty of time, and as soon 
as the sun was up it would dry right off. So I got on to 
one of the ponies and led the others down to the spring 
near camp to water them while the wench was a getting 
breakfast, and some o' the rest o' the outfit was a fixing the 
saddles and greasing the wagon. 

" Just as I was coming back, — it had growed quite 
light then, — I seed Bo}'d and Thorp start out from camp 
with their rifles and make for the buffalo ; so I picketed 
the ponies, gets my rifle, and starts off too. 

" By the time I'd reached the edge of the bottom, 
Thorp and Boyd was a crawling up on to a young bull 
way off to the right, and I lit out for a fat cow I seen 
bunched up with the rest of the herd on the left. 

" The grass was mighty tall on some parts of the 
Arkansas bottom in them days, and I got within easy 
shooting 1 range without the herd seems 1 me. 



UNCLE JOHN SMITH 303 

" The buffalo was now between me and Thorp and Boyd, 
and they was furtherest from camp. I could see them over 
the top of the grass kind o' edging up to the bull, and I 
kept a crawling on my hands and knees toward the cow, 
and when I got about a hundred and fifty yards of her, 
I pulled up my rifle and drawee! a bead. 

" Just as I was running my eyes along the bar'l, a 
darned little quail flew right out from under my feet and 
lit exactly on my front sight and of course cut off my 
aim — we didn't shoot reckless in those days ; every shot 
had to tell, or a man was the laughing-stock for a month 
if he missed his game. 

" I shook the little critter off and brought up my rifle 
again when, durn my skin, if the bird didn't light right 
on to the same place ; at the same time my eyes grow'd 
kind o' hazy-like and in a minute I didn't know nothing. 

"When I come to, the quail was gone, I heerd a couple 
of rifle shots, and right in front of where the bull had 
stood and close to Thorp and Boyd, half a dozen Ingins 
jumped up out o' the tall grass and, firing into the two 
men, killed Thorp instantly and wounded Boyd. 

"He and me got to camp, — keeping off the Ingins, 
who knowed I was loaded, — when we, with the rest of 
the outfit, drove the red devils away. 

" They was Apaches, and the fellow that shot Thorp 
was a half-breed nigger and Apache. He scalped Thorp 
and carred off the whole upper part of his skull with 
it. He got Thorp's rifle and bullet-pouch too, and his 
knife. 

" We buried Thorp in the bottom there, and some of 
the party cut their names on the stones that they covered 
his body up with, to keep the coyotes from eating up 
his bones. 

" Boyd got on to the river with us all right, and I 
never heerd of him after we separated at Booneville. We 



304 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

pulled out soon after the Indians left, but we didn't get 
no buffalo-meat. 

" You see, boys, if I'd a fired into that cow, the devils 
would a had me before I could a got a patch on my ball 

— didn't have no breech-loaders in them days, and it 
took as much judgment to know how to load a rifle 
properly as it did to shoot it. 

" Them Ingins knowed all that — they knowed I hadn't 
fired, so they kept a respectable distance. I would a fired, 
but the quail saved my life by interfering with my sight 

— and that's the reason I don't eat no quail. I hain't super- 
stitious, but I don't believe they was meant to be eat." 

Uncle John stuck to his text, I believe, until he died, 
and you could never disabuse his mind of the idea that 
the quail lighting oh his rifle was not a special interposi- 
tion of Providence. 

Only four years after he told his story, in 1872, one of 
the newly established settlers, living a few miles west of 
Larned on Pawnee Bottom, having observed in one of his 
fields a singular depression, resembling an old grave, 
determined to dig down and see if there was any special 
cause for the strange indentation on his land. 

A couple of feet below the surface he discovered several 
flat pieces of stone, on one of which the words " Wash- 
ington " and "J. Hildreth " were rudely cut, also a line 
separating them, and underneath: "December tenth" 
and "J. M., 1850." On another was carved the name 
" J. H. Shell," with other characters that could not be 
deciphered. On a third stone were the initials " H. R., 
1817 " ; underneath which was plainly cut " J. R. Boyd," 
and still beneath "J. R. Pring." At the very bottom of 
the excavation were found the lower portion of the skull, 
one or two ribs, and one of the bones of the leg of a human 
being. The piece of skull was found near the centre of 
the grave, for such it certainly was. 



UNCLE JOHN SMITH 305 

At the time of the discovery I was in Lamed, and I 
immediately consulted my book of notes and memoranda 
taken hurriedly at intervals on the plains and in the moun- 
tains, during more than half my lifetime, to see if I could 
find anything that would solve the mystery attached to 
the quiet prairie-grave and its contents, and I then re- 
called Uncle John Smith's story of the quail as related to 
me at my camp. I also met Colonel A. G. Boone that 
winter in Washington; he remembered the circumstances 
well. Thorp was working for him, as Smith had said, and 
was killed by an Apache, who, in scalping him, tore the 
half of his head away, and it was thus found mutilated, so 
many years afterward. 

Uncle John was in one of his garrulous moods that 
night, and as we were not by any means tired of hearing 
the veteran trapper talk, without much urging he told us 
the following tale : — 

" Well, boys, thirty years ago, beaver, mink, and otter 
was found in abundacious quantities on all the streams in 
the Rocky Mountains. The trade in them furs was a 
paying business, for the little army of us fellows called 
trappers. They ain't any of 'em left now, no mor'n the 
animals we used to hunt. We had to move about from 
place to place, just as if we was so many Ingins. Some- 
times we'd construct little cabins in the timber, or a dug- 
out where the game was plenty, where we'd stay maybe 
for a month or two, and once in a while — though not 
often — a whole year. 

" The Ingins was our mortal enemies; they'd get a scalp 
from our fellows occasionally, but for every one they had 
of ours we had a dozen of theirs. 

" In the summer of 1846, there was a little half dug- 
out, half cabin, opposite the mouth of Frenchman's Creek, 
put up by Bill Thorpe, Al Boyd, and Rube Stevens. 
Bill and Al was men grown, and know'd more 'bout the 



306 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

prairies and timber than the Ingins themselves. They'd 
hired out to the Northwest Fur Company when they was 
mere kids, and kept on trapping ever since. Rube — 
" Little Rube" as all the old men called him — was 'bout 
nineteen, and plumb dumb ; he could hear well enough 
though, for he wasn't born that way. When he was 
seventeen his father moved from his farm in Pennsylvany, 
to take up a claim in Oregon, and the whole family was 
compelled to cross the plains to get there ; for there wasn't 
no other way. While they was camped in the Bitter- 
Root valley one evening, just 'bout sundown, a party of 
Blackfeet surprised the outfit, and massacred all of them 
but Rube. They carried him off, kept him as a slave, 
and, to make sure of him, cut out his tongue at the roots. 
But some of the women who wasn't quite so devilish as 
their husbands, and who took pity on him, Avent to work 
and cured him of his awful wound. He was used mighty 
mean by the bucks of the tribe, and made up his mind to 
get away from them or kill himself ; for he could not live 
under their harsh treatment. After he'd been with them 
for mor'n a year, the tribe had a terrible battle with the 
Sioux, and in the scrimmage Rube stole a pony and lit 
out. He rode on night and day until he came across the 
cabin of the two trappers I have told you 'bout, and they, 
of course, took the poor boy in and cared for him. 

" Rube was a splendid shot with the rifle, and he swore 
to himself that he would never leave the prairies and do 
nothing for the rest of his life but kill Ingins, who had 
made him a homeless orphan, and so mutilated him. 

" After Rube had been with Boyd and Thorpe a year, 
they was all one day in the winter examining their traps 
which was scattered 'long the stream for miles. After 
re-baiting them, they concluded to hunt for meat, which 
was getting scarce at the cabin ; they let Rube go down 
to the creek where it widened out lake-like, to fish through 



UNCLE JOHN SMITH 307 

a hole in the ice, and Al and Bill took their rifles and 
hunted in the timber for deer. They all got separated 
of course, Rube being furtherest away, while Al and Bill 
did not wander so far from each other that they could not 
be heard if one wanted his companion. 

" Al shot a fat black-tail deer, and just as he was going 
to stoop down to cut its throat, Bill yelled out to him : — 

" ' Drop everything Al, for God's sake, and let's_ make 
for the dugout ; they're coming, a whole band of Sioux ! ' 

" ' If Ave can get to the cabin,' replied Al, ' we can 
keep off the whole nation. I wonder where Rube is ? I 
hope he'll get here and save his scalp.' 

" At this instant, poor Rube dashed up to them, an 
Ingin close upon his tracks ; he had unfortunately for- 
gotten to take his rifle with him when he went to the 
creek, and now he was at the mercy of the savage ; at 
least both he and his pursuer so thought. But before 
the Ingin had fairly uttered his yell of exultation, Al 
who with Bill had held his rifle in readiness for an emer- 
gency, lifted the red devil off his feet, and he fell dead 
without ever knowing what had struck him. 

" Rube, thus delivered from a sudden death, ran at the 
top of his speed with his two friends for the cabin, for, if 
they could reach it, they did not fear a hundred paint- 
bedaubed savages. 

" Luckily they arrived in time. Where they lived was 
part dugout and part cabin. It was about ten feet high, 
and right back of it was a big ledge of rock, which made 
it impossible for any one to get into it from that side. 
The place had no door ; they did not dare to put one 
there when it was built, for they were likely to be sur- 
prised at any moment by a prowling band, so the only 
entrance was a square hole in the roof, through which one 
at a time had to crawl to enter. 

" The boys got inside all right just as the Ingins came 



308 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

a yelling up. Bill looked out of a hole in the wall and 
counted thirty of the devils, and said at once : ' Off with 
your coats ; don't let them have anything to catch hold 
of but our naked bodies if they get in, and we can handle 
ourselves better.' 

" ' Thirty to three,' said Al. ' Whew ! this ain't going 
to be any boy's play; we've got to fight for all there is in 
it, and the chances are mightily agin us.' 

" Rube he took an axe, and stood right under the hole 
in the roof, so that if any of the devils got in he could 
brain them. In a minute five rifles cracked ; for the Ingins 
was pretty well armed for them times, and their bullets 
rattled agin the logs like hail agin a tent. Some of 'em 
was on top the roof by this time, and soon the leader of 
the party, a big painted devil, thrust his ugly face into 
the hole ; but he had hardly got a good look before Bill 
dropped him by a well-directed shot and he tumbled in 
on the floor. 

" ' You darned fool,' said Bill, as he saw the effect of 
his shot; 'did you think we was asleep? ' 

"There was one opening that served for air, and a 
savage, seeing the boys had forgotten to barricade it, 
tried to push himself through, an' not succeeding, tried 
to back out, but at that instant Bill caught him by the 
wrist — Bill was a powerful man — and picking up a 
beaver-trap that laid on the floor, actually beat his brains 
out with it. 

"While this circus was going on inside, three more of 
the Ingins got on the roof and wrenched off a couple of 
the logs that covered it; but in a minute they came tum- 
bling down and lay dead on the floor. 

" ' That leaves only twenty-five, don't it ? ' inquired Al, 
as he mopped his face with his shirt-sleeve. 

" ' Howl, you red devils,' said Bill, as the Ingins com- 
menced their awful yelling when they saw their comrades 



UNCLE JOHN SMITH 309 

fall into the room. ' Don't you know, you blame fools, 
you've fell in with experienced hands at the shooting 
business ? ' 

" Spat ! Something hit AT, and he was the first wounded, 
but it was only a scratch, and he kept right on attending 
to business. 

"'By gosh! look at Rube, will you?' said Al. The 
dumb boy had in his grasp the very chief of the band, 
who had just then discovered the hole in the roof made 
by the three Ingins who had passed in their checks for 
their impudence, and was trying his best to push himself 
down. Rube had made a strike at him with an axe, but 
the edge was turned aside, and the savage was getting 
the better of the boy ; he had grappled Rube by the hair 
and one arm, and they was flying 'round like a wild cat 
and a hound. Bill tried three times to sink his knife 
into the old chief, but there was such a cavortin' in the 
wrastle between him and the boy, he was afraid to try 
any more, for fear it might hit Rube instead. Suddenly 
the Ingin fell to the floor as dead as a trapped beaver 
what's been drowned ; Rube had struck his buckhorn- 
handled hunting-knife right into the heart of the brute. 

'"Set him agin the hole in the side of the building,' 
said Bill; ' he ain't fit for nothing else than to stop a gap ; ' 
so Rube set him agin the hole, and pinned him there with 
half a dozen knives what was lying round loose. 

"Just as they had fastened the dead body of the old 
chief to the side of the cabin, a perfect shower of bullets 
came rattling round like a hailstorm. 'All right, let's 
have your waste lead,' said Bill. 

" ' A few more of these dead Biffins and we can make a 
regular fort of this old cabin ; we want two for that 
chunk,' said Al, as he pointed with his rifle to a large 
gap on the west side of the wall; but before he had fairly 
got the words out of his mouth, two of the attacking 



310 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

party jumped down into the room. Al, being a regular 
giant, as soon as they landed, surprised them by seizing 
one with each hand by the throat, and he actually held 
them at arm's-length till he had squeezed the very life out 
of them, and they both fell corpses. 

" While Al was performing his two-lngin act, a great 
light burst into the cabin, and by the time he had choked 
his enemies to death, he saw, while the Ingins outside 
gave a terrible yell of exultation, that they had fired 
the place. 

'"Damn 'em,' shouted Bill, as he pitched the corpse of 
the chief from the gap where Rube had set him. ' Fellows, 
we've got to get out of here right quick ; follow me, 
boys ! ' 

" Holding their rifles in hand, and clutching a huntine- 
knife also, they stepped out into the brush surrounding 
the place, and started on a run for the heavy timber on 
the bank of the creek. 

" They had reckoned onluckily ; a wild war-whoop 
greeted the flying men as they reached the edge of the 
forest, and without being able to use their arms, they 
were taken prisoners. Bill and Al, fastened with their 
backs against each other, and Little Rube by himself, 
were bound to separate trees, but not so far apart that 
they could not speak to each other, and some of the 
Ingins began to gather sticks and pile them around the 
trees. 

'"What are they going to do with us'?' anxiously in- 
quired Bill of Al. 

" ' Roast us, you bet,' replied the other. ' They'll find 
me tough enough, anyhow.' » 

" ' It must be a painful death,' soliloquized Bill. 

" ' Well, it isn't the most pleasant one, you can gamble 
on that,' said Al, turning his looks toward Bill; 'but 
see what the devils are doing to poor Rube.' 



UNCLE JOHN SMITH 311 

" Bill cast his eyes in the direction of the dumb boy, 
who was fastened to a small pine, about a hundred feet 
distant. Standing directly in front of it was a gigantic 
Ingin, flourishing his scalping-knife within an inch of 
Rube's head, trying to make the boy flinch. But the 
young fellow merely scowled at him in a rage, his muscles 
never quivering for an instant. 

" While the men were trying to console each other, 
two of the savages, who had gone away for a short time, 
returned, bearing the carcass of the deer that Al had killed 
in the morning, and commenced to cut it up. They had 
made several small fires, and roasting the meat before 
them, began to gorge themselves, Indian fashion, with 
the savoury morsels. The men were awfully hungry, too, 
but not a mouthful did they get of their own game. 

" The Ingins were more'n an hour feasting, while their 
prisoners kept a looking for some help to get 'em out of 
the scrape they was in. 

" 'Bout a mile down the creek, me and six other trap- 
pers had a camp, and that morning, being scarce of meat, 
we all went a hunting. We had killed two or three elk 
and was 'bout going back to camp with our game, when 
we heard firing, and supposed it was a party of hunters, 
like ourselves, so we did not pay any attention to it at 
first ; but when it kept up so long, and there was such a 
constant volley, I told our boys it might be a scrimmage 
with a party of red devils, and we concluded to go and 
see. 

" We left our elk where they were, and started in the 
direction of the shooting, taking mighty good care not 
to be surprised ourselves. We crept carefully on, and a 
little before sundown seen a camp-fire burning in the 
timber quite a smart piece ahead of us. We stopped then, 
and Ike Pettet and myself crept on cautiously on our 
hands and knees through the brush to learn what the fire 



312 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

meant. In a little while we seen it was an Ingin camp, 
and we counted twenty-two warriors seated 'round their 
fires a eating as unconcernedly as if we warn't nowhere 
near 'em. We didn't feel like tackling so many, so just 
as we was 'bout to crawl away and leave 'em in ondis- 
turbed possession of their camp, we heard some parties 
talking in English. Then we pricked up our ears and 
listened mighty interested I tell you. Looking 'round, 
we seen the men tied to the trees and the wood piled 
against 'em, and then we knowed what was up. We had 
to be mighty wary, for if we snapped a twig even, it was 
all day with us and the prisoners too ; so we dragged our- 
selves back, and after getting out of sound of the Ingins, 
we just got up and lit out mighty lively for the place 
we'd left our companions. We met them coming slowly 
on 'bout two miles from the Ingin camp, and telling 'em 
what was up we started to help the trappers what the 
devils was agoing to burn. We wasn't half so long in 
getting at the camp as Ike and me was in going, and we 
soon come within good range for our rifles. 

" The Ingins was still unsuspicious, and we spread our- 
selves in a sort of half circle so as to kind o' surround 
them, and at a signal I give, seven rifles cracked at once, 
and as many of the Injins was dropped right in their 
tracks ; a second volley, for the red devils had not got 
their senses yet, tumbled seven more corpses upon the 
pile, and then we white men jumped in Avith our knives 
and clubbed rifles, and there was a lively scrimmage for a 
few minutes. The few Ingins what wasn't killed fought 
like devils, but as we was getting the best of 'em every 
second they turned tail and ran. 

" We'd heard the firing of the fight at the cabin just in 
time ; and as we cut the rawhide strings that bound the 
fellows to the trees, Ike, who was a right fine shot and 
had killed three at one time, said : ' I always like to get 



UNCLE JOHN SMITH 



313 



two or three of the red devils in a line before I pull the 
trigger; it saves lead.' 

" Then we all went back to our camp and made a night 
of it, feasting on the elk we had killed, and talking over 
the wonderful escape of the boys and Little Rube." 




v^W?/ 'ol '/lie Cdidvbn d Entile'. 



CHAPTER XVI 



FAMOUS MEN OF THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL KIT CAESON JIM 

BRIDGER JAMES P. BECKWOURTH UNCLE DICK WOOTON 

JIM BAKER LUCIEN B. MAXWELL OLD BILL WILLIAMS 

TOM TOBIN JAMES HOBBS. 



" Old Jim bdker" 



F the famous men whose 
lives are so interwoven 
with the history of the 
Old Santa Fe Trail that 
the story of the great 
highway is largely made 
up of their individual ex- 
ploits and acts of bravery, 
it has been my fortune to 
have known nearly all 
intimately, during more 
than a third of a century 
f passed on the great plains 
and in the Rocky Moun- 
tains. 

First of all, Christopher, or Kit, 
Carson, as he is familiarly known to the world, stands at 
the head and front of celebrated frontiersmen, trappers, 
scouts, guides, and Indian fighters. 

I knew him well through a series of years, to the date 
of his death in 1868, but I shall confine myself to the 
events of his remarkable career along the line of the Trail 
and its immediate environs. In 1826 a party of Santa Fe" 
traders passing near his father's home in Howard County, 

314 




KIT CARSON 315 

Missouri, young Kit, who was then but seventeen years old, 
joined the caravan as hunter. He was already an expert 
with the rifle, and thus commenced his life of adventure 
on the great plains and in the Rocky Mountains. 

His first exhibition of that nerve and coolness in the 
presence of danger which marked his whole life was in 
this initial trip across the plains. When the caravan had 
arrived at the Arkansas River, somewhere in the vicinity 
of the great bend of that stream, one of the teamsters, 
while carelessly pulling his rifle toward him by the barrel, 
discharged the weapon and received the ball in his arm, 
completely crushing the bones. The blood from the 
wound flowed so copiously that he nearly lost his life 
before it could be arrested. He was fixed up, however, 
and the caravan proceeded on its journey, the man think- 
ing no more seriously of his injured arm. In a few da}'S, 
however, the wound began to indicate that gangrene had 
set in, and it was determined that only by an amputation 
was it possible for him to live beyond a few days. Every 
one of the older men of the caravan positively declined to 
attempt the operation, as there were no instruments of 
any kind. At this juncture Kit, realizing the extreme 
necessity of prompt action, stepped forward and offered 
to do the job. ,He told the unfortunate sufferer that he 
had had no experience in such matters, but that as no one 
else would do it, he would take the chances. All the 
tools that Kit could find were a razor, a saw, and the 
king-bolt of a wagon. He cut the flesh with the razor, 
sawed through the bone as if it had been a piece of joist, 
and seared the horrible wound with the king-bolt, which 
he had heated to a white glow, for the purpose of stopping 
the flow of blood that naturally followed such rude sur- 
gery. The operation was a complete success ; the man 
lived many years afterward, and was with his surgeon 
in many an expedition. 



316 



THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 




Kit Carson 



In the early clays of the commerce of the prairies. Car- 
son was the hunter at Bent's Fort for a period of eight 
years. There were about forty men employed at the 
place; and when the game was found in abundance in the 
mountains, it was a relatively easy task and just suited 
to his love of sport, but when it grew scarce, as it often 
did, his prowess was tasked to its utmost to keep the forty 
mouths from crying for food. He became such an unerring 
shot with the rifle during that time that he was called the 
"Nestor of the Rocky Mountains." His favourite game 
was the buffalo, although he killed countless numbers of 
other animals. 

All of the plains trihes of Indians, as did the powerful 
Utes of the mountains, knew him well; for he had often 



KIT CARSON 317 

visited in their camps, sat in their lodges, smoked the 
pipe, and played with their little boys. The latter fact 
may not appear of much consequence, but there are no 
people on earth who have a greater love for their boy 
children than the savages of America. The Indians all 
feared him, too, at the same time that they respected his 
excellent judgment, and frequently were governed by his 
wise counsel. The following story will show his power 
in this direction. The Sioux, one of the most numerous 
and warlike tribes at that time, had encroached upon the 
hunting-grounds of the southern Indians, and the latter 
had many a skirmish with them on the banks of the 
Arkansas along the line of the Trail. Carson, who was 
in the upper valley of the river, was sent for to come 
down and help them drive the obnoxious Sioux back to 
their own stamping-ground. He left Fort Bent, and 
went with the party of Comanche messengers to the main 
camp of that tribe and the Arapahoes, with whom they 
had united. Upon his arrival, he was told that the Sioux 
had a thousand warriors and many rifles, and the Coman- 
ches and Arapahoes were afraid of them on account of 
the great disparity of numbers, but that if he would go 
with them on the war-path, they felt assured they could 
overcome their enemies. Carson, however, instead of 
encouraging the Comanches and Arapahoes to fight, in- 
duced them to negotiate with the Sioux. He was sent 
as mediator, and so successfully accomplished his mission 
that the intruding tribe consented to leave the hunting- 
grounds of the Comanches as soon as the buffalo season 
was over ; which they did, and there was no more 
trouble. 

After many adventures in California with Fremont, 
Carson, with his inseparable friend, L. B. Maxwell, em- 
barked in the wool-raising industry. Shortly after they 
had established themselves on their ranch, the Apaches 



318 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

made one of their frequent murdering and plundering 
raids through Northern New Mexico, killing defenceless 
women and children, running off stock of all kinds, and 
laying waste every little ranch they came across in their 
wild foray. Not very far from the city of Santa Fe, they 
ruthlessly butchered a Mr. White and his son, though 
three of their number were slain by the brave gentlemen 
before they were overpowered. Other of the blood-thirsty 
savages carried away the women and children of the deso- 
lated home and took them to their mountain retreat in the 
vicinity of Las Vegas. Mr. White was a highly respected 
merchant, and news of this outrage spreading rapidly 
through the settlements, it was determined that the sav- 
ages should not go without punishment this time, at least. 
Carson's reputation as an Indian fighter was at its height, 
so the natives of the country sent for him, and declined 
to move until he came. For some unexplained reason, 
after he arrived at Las Vegas, he was not placed in charge 
of the posse, that position having already been given to 
a Frenchman. Carson, as was usual witli him, never 
murmured because he was assigned to a subordinate posi- 
tion, but took his place, ready to do his part in whatever 
capacity. 

The party set out for the stronghold of the savages, and 
rode alight and clay on the trail of the murderers, hoping 
to surprise them and recapture the women and children ; 
but so much time had been wasted in delays, that Carson 
feared they would only find the mutilated bodies of the 
poor captives. In a few days after leaving Las Vegas, 
the retreat of the savages was discovered in the fastness 
of the mountains, where they had fortified themselves in 
such a manner that they could resist ten times the number 
of their pursuers. Carson, as soon as he saw them, with- 
out a second's hesitation, and giving a characteristic yell, 
dashed in, expecting, of course, that the men would follow 



KIT CARSON 319 

him; but they only stood in gaping wonderment at his 
bravery, not daring to venture after him. He did not 
discover his dilemma until he had advanced so far alone 
that escape seemed impossible. But here his coolness, 
which always served him in the moment of supreme dan- 
ger, saved his scalp. As the savages turned on him, he 
threw himself on the off side of his horse, Indian fashion, 
for he was as expert in a trick of that kind as the savages 
themselves, and rode back to the little command. He 
had six arrows in his horse and a bullet through his 
coat ! 

The Indians in those days were poorly armed, and did 
not long follow up the pursuit after Carson ; for, observing 
the squad of mounted Mexicans, they retreated to the top 
of a rocky prominence, from which point they could watch 
every movement of the whites. Carson was raging at the 
apathy, not to say cowardice, of the men who had sent for 
him to join them, but he kept his counsel to himself; for 
he was anxious to save the captured women and children. 
He talked to the men very earnestly, however, exhorting 
them not to flinch in the duty they had come so far to per- 
form, and for which he had come at their call. This had 
the desired effect ; for he induced them to make a charge, 
which was gallantly performed, and in such a brave man- 
ner that the Indians fled, scarcely making an effort to 
defend themselves. Five of their number were killed at 
the furious onset of the Mexicans, but unfortunately, as 
he anticipated, only the murdered corpses of the women 
and children were the result of the victory. 

President Polk appointed Carson to a second lieuten- 
ancy, 1 and his first official duty was conducting fifty 
soldiers under his command through the country of the 
' Comanches, who were then at war with the whites. A 

1 For some reason the Senate refused to confirm the appointment, and 
he had consequently no connection with the regular army. 



320 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

fight occurred at a place known as Point of Rocks, 1 where 
on arriving, Carson found a company of volunteers for the 
Mexican War, and camped near them. About dawn the 
next morning, all the animals of the volunteers were capt- 
ured by a band of Indians, while the herders were con- 
ducting them to the river-bottom to graze. The herders 
had no weapons, and luckily, in the confusion attending 
the bold theft, ran into Carson's camp; and as he, with 
his men, were ready with their rifles, they recaptured the 
oxen, but the horses were successfully driven off by their 
captors. 

Several of the savages were mortally wounded by Car- 
son's prompt charge, as signs after they had cleared out 
proved; but the Indian custom of tying the wounded on 
their ponies precluded the chance of taking any scalps. 
The wily Comanche, like the Arab of the desert, is gener- 
ally successful in his sudden assaults, but Carson, who 
was never surprised, was always equal to his tactics. 

One of the two soldiers whose turn it had been to stand 
guard that morning was discovered to have been asleep 
when the alarm of Indians was given, and Carson at once 
administered the Indian method of punishment, making 
the man wear the dress of a squaw for that da)-. Then 
going on, he arrived at Santa Fe, where he turned over 
his little command. 

While there, he heard that a gang of those desperadoes 
so frequently the nuisance of a new country had formed 

1 Point of Rocks is six hundred and forty seven miles from Indepen- 
dence, and was always a favourite place of resort for the Indians of the 
great plains ; consequently it was one of the most dangerous camping- 
spots for the freight caravans on the Trail. It comprises a series of 
continuous hills, which project far out on the prairie in bold relief. They 
end abruptly in a mass of rocks, out of which gushes a cold, refreshing 
spring, which is, of course, the main attraction of the place. The Trail 
winds about near this point, and many encounters with the various tribes 
have occurred there. 



KIT CAKSON 321 

a conspiracy to murder and rob two wealthy citizens whom 
they had volunteered to accompany over the Trail to the 
States. The caravan was already many miles on its way 
when Carson was informed of the plot. In less than an 
hour he had hired sixteen picked men and was on his 
march to intercept them. He took a short cut across the 
mountains, taking especial care to keep out of the way of 
the Indians, who were on the war-path, but as to whose 
movements he was always posted. In two days he came 
upon a camp of United States recruits, en route to the 
military posts in New Mexico, whose commander offered 
to accompany him with twenty men. Carson accepted the 
generous proposal, by forced marches soo'n overtook the 
caravan of traders, and at once placed one Fox, the leader 
of the gang, in irons, after which he informed the owners 
of the caravan of the escape they had made from the 
wretches whom they were treating so kindly. At first 
the gentlemen were astounded at the disclosures made to 
them, but soon admitted that they had noticed many 
things which convinced them that the plot really existed, 
and but for the opportune arrival of the brave frontiers- 
man it would shortly have been carried out. 

The members of the caravan who were perfectly trust- 
worthy were then ordered to corral the rest of the conspira- 
tors, thirty-five in number, and they were driven out of 
camp, with the exception of Fox, the leader, whom Carson 
conveyed to Taos. He was imprisoned for several months, 
but as a crime in intent only could be proved against him, 
and as the adobe walls of the house where he was confined 
were not secure enough to retain a man who desired to 
release himself, he was finally liberated, and cleared out. 

The traders were profuse in their thanks to Carson for 
his timely interference, but he refused every offer of re- 
muneration. On their return to Santa Fe" from St. Louis, 
however, they presented him with a magnificent pair of 



322 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

pistols, upon whose silver mounting was an inscription 
commemorating his brave deed and the gratitude of the 
donors. 

The following summer was spent in a visit to St. 
Louis, and early in the fall he returned over the Trail, 
arriving at the Cheyenne village on the Upper Arkansas 
without meeting with any incident worthy of note. On 
reaching that point, he learned that the Indians had 
received a terrible affront from an officer commanding a 
detachment of United States troops, who had whij^ped one 
of their chiefs; and that consequently the whole tribe 
was enraged, and burning for revenge upon the whites. 
Carson was the first white man to approach the place since 
the insult, and so many years .had elapsed since he was 
the hunter at Bent's Fort, and so grievously had the 
Indians been offended, that his name no longer guaran- 
teed safety to the party with whom he was travelling, nor 
even insured respect to himself, in the state of excitement 
existing in the village. Carson, however, deliberately 
pushed himself into the presence of a war council which 
was just then in session to consider the question of 
attacking the caravan, giving orders to his men to keep 
close together, and guard against a surprise. 

The savages, supposing that he could not understand 
their language, talked without restraint, and unfolded 
their plans to capture his party and kill them all, partic- 
ularly the leader. After they had reached this decision, 
Carson coolly rose and addressed the council in the 
Cheyenne language, informing the Indians who he was, 
of his former associations with and kindness to their 
tribe, and that now he was ready to render them any assist- 
ance they might require ; but as to their taking his scalp, 
he claimed the right to say a word. . 

The Indians departed, and Carson went on his way; but 
there were hundreds of savages in sight on the sand hills, 



KIT CARSON 323 

and, though they made no attack, he was well aware that 
he was in their power, nor had they abandoned the idea 
of capturing his train. His coolness and deliberation 
kept his men in spirit, and yet out of the whole fifteen, 
which was the total number of his force, there were only 
two or three on whom he could place any reliance in case 
of an emergency. 

When the train camped for the night, the wagons were 
corralled, and the men and mules all brought inside the 
circle. Grass was cut with sheath-knives and fed to the 
animals, instead of their being picketed out as usual, and 
as large a guard as possible detailed. When the camp 
had settled down to perfect quiet, Carson 'crawled outside 
it, taking with him a Mexican boy, and after explaining 
to him the danger which threatened them all, told him 
that it was in his power to save the lives of the company. 
Then he sent him on alone to Rayedo, a journey of nearly 
three hundred miles, to ask for an escort of United States 
troops to be sent out to meet the train, impressing upon 
the brave little Mexican the importance of putting a good 
many miles between himself and the camp before morning. 
And so he started him, with a few rations of food, without 
letting the rest of his party know that such measures were 
necessary. The boy had been in Carson's service for some 
time, and was known to him as a faithful and active mes- 
senger, and in a wild country like New Mexico, with the 
outdoor life and habits of its people, such a journey was 
not an unusual occurrence. 

Carson now returned to the camp, to watch all night 
himself, and at daybreak all were on the Trail again. No 
Indians made their appearance until nearly noon, when 
five warriors came galloping up toward the train. As 
soon as they came close enough to hear his voice, Carson 
ordered them to halt, and going up to them, told how he 
had sent a messenger to Rayedo the night before to inform 



324 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

the troops that their tribe were annoying him, and that if 
he or his men were molested, terrible punishment would 
be inflicted by those who would surely come to his relief. 
The savages replied that the}' would look for the moccasin 
tracks, which they undoubtedly found, and the whole vil- 
lage passed away toward the hills after a little while, 
evidently seeking a place of safety from an expected attack 
by the troops. 

The young Mexican overtook the detachment of soldiers 
whose officer had caused all the trouble with the Indians, 
to whom he told his story ; but failing to secure any sym- 
pathy, he continued his journey to Rayedo, and procured 
from the garrison of that place immediate assistance. 
Major Grier, commanding the post, at once despatched 
a troop of his regiment, which, by forced marches, met 
Carson twenty-five miles below Bent's Fort, and though 
it encountered no Indians, the rapid movement had a 
good effect upon the savages, impressing them with the 
power and promptness of the government. 

Early in the spring of 1865, Carson was ordered, with 
three companies, to put a stop to the depredations of 
marauding bands of Cheyennes, Kiowas, and Comanches 
upon the caravans and emigrant outfits travelling the 
Santa Fe Trail. He left Fort Union with his command 
and marched over the Dry or Cimarron route to the 
Arkansas River, for the purpose of establishing a forti- 
fied camp at Cedar Bluffs, or Cold Spring, to afford a 
refuge for the freight trains on that dangerous part of 
the Trail. The Indians had for some time been harass- 
ing not only the caravans of the citizen traders, but also 
those of the government, which carried supplies to the 
several military posts in the Territory of New Mexico. 
An expedition was therefore planned by Carson to punish 
them, and he soon found an opportunity to strike a blow 
near the adobe fort on the Canadian River. His force 



KIT CAKSON 325 

consisted of the First Regiment of New Mexican Volun- 
teer Cavalry and seventy-five friendly Indians, his entire 
command numbering fourteen commissioned officers and 
three hundred and ninety-six enlisted men. With these 
he attacked the Kiowa village, consisting of about one 
hundred and fifty lodges. The fight was a very severe 
one, and lasted from half-past eight in the morning until 
after sundown. The savages, with more than ordinary 
intrepidity and boldness, made repeated stands against 
the fierce onslaughts of Carson's cavalrymen, but were 
at last forced to give way, and were cut down as they 
stubbornly retreated, suffering a loss of sixty killed and 
wounded. In this battle only two privates and one non- 
commissioned officer were killed, and one non-commis- 
sioned officer and thirteen privates, four' of whom were 
friendly Indians, wounded. The command destroyed one 
hundred and fifty lodges, a large amount of dried meats, 
berries, buffalo-robes, cooking utensils, and also a buggy 
and spring-wagon, the property of Sierrito, 1 the Kiowa 
chief. 

In his official account of the fight, Carson states that 
he found ammunition in the village, which had been 
furnished, no doubt, by unscrupulous Mexican traders. 

He told me that he never was deceived bj r Indian tac- 
tics but once in his life. He said that he was hunting 
with six others after buffalo, in the summer of 1835; 
that they had been successful, and came into their little 
bivouac one night very tired, intending to start for the 
rendezvous at Bent's Fort the next morning. The}' had 
a number of dogs, among them some excellent animals. 
These barked a good deal, and seemed restless, and the 
men heard wolves. 

"I saw," said Kit, "two big wolves sneaking about, 
one of them quite close to us. Gordon, one of my men, 
1 "Little Mountain." 



326 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

-x 

wanted to fire his rifle at it, but I did not let him, for 
fear he would hit a dog. I admit that I had a sort of 
an idea that those wolves might be Indians ; but when I 
noticed one of them turn short around, and heard the 
clashing of his teeth as he rushed at one of the dogs, I 
felt easy then, and was certain that they were wolves sure 
enough. But the red devil fooled me, after all, for he 
had two dried buffalo bones in his hands under the wolf- 
skin, and he rattled them together eveiy time he turned 
to make a dash at the dogs ! Well, by and by we all 
dozed off, .and it wasn't long before I was suddenly 
aroused by a noise and a big blaze. I rushed out the 
first thing for our mules, and held them. If the savages 
had been at all smart, they could have killed us in a 
trice, but they ran as soon as they fired at us. They 
killed one of my men, putting five bullets in his body 
and eight in his buffalo-robe. The Indians were a band 
of Sioux on the war-trail after a band of Snakes, and 
found us by sheer accident. They endeavoured to ambush 
us the next morning, but we got wind of their little 
game and killed three of them, including the chief." 

Carson's nature was made up of some very noble attri- 
butes. He was brave, but not reckless like Custer; a 
veritable exponent of Christian altruism, and as true to 
his friends as the needle to the pole. Under the average 
stature, and rather delicate-looking in his physical- pro- 
portions, he was nevertheless a quick, wiry man, with 
nerves of steel, and possessing an indomitable will. He 
was full of caution, but showed a coolness, in the moment 
of supreme danger that was good to witness. 

During a short visit at Fort Lyon, Colorado, where a 
favourite son of his was living, early in the morning of 
May 23, 1868, while mounting his horse in front of his 
quarters (he was still fond of riding), an artery in his 
neck was suddenly ruptured, from the effects of which, 



KIT CARSON 327 

% 

notwithstanding the medical assistance rendered by the 

fort surgeons, he died in a few moments. 

His remains, after reposing for some time at Fort Lyon, 
were taken to Taos, so long his home in New Mexico, 
where an appropriate monument was erected over them. 
In the Plaza at Santa Fe\ his name also appears cut on 
a cenotaph raised to commemorate the services of the 
soldiers of the Territory. As an Indian fighter he was 
matchless. The identical rifle used by him for more than 
thirty-five years, and which never failed him, he bequeathed, 
just before his death, to Montezuma Lodge, A. F. & A. M., 
Santa F^, of which he was a member. 

James Bridger, " Major Bridger," or " Old Jim Bridger," 
as he was called, another of the famous coterie of pioneer 
frontiersmen, was born in Washington, District of Colum- 
bia, in 1807. When very young, a mere boy in fact, he 
joined the great trapping expedition under the leadership 
of James Ashley, and with it travelled to the far West, 
remote from the extreme limit of border civilization, 
where he became the compeer and comrade of Carson, and 
certainly the foremost moimtaineer, strictly speaking, the 
United States has produced. 

Having left behind him all possibilities of education at 
such an early age, he was illiterate in his speech and as 
ignorant of the conventionalities of polite society as an 
Indian ; but he possessed a heart overflowing with the 
milk of human kindness, was generous in the extreme, 
and honest and true as daylight. 

He was especially distinguished for the discovery of a 
defile through the intricate mazes of the Rocky Moun- 
tains, which bears his name, Bridger's Pass. He rendered 
important services as guide and scout during the early 
preliminary surveys for a transcontinental railroad, and 
for a series of years was in the employ of the govern- 
ment, in the old regular army on the great plains and in 



328 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

the mountains, long before the breaking out of the Civil 
War. To Bridger also belongs the honour of having seen, 
first of all white men, the Great Salt Lake of Utah, in the 
winter of 1824-25. 

After a series of adventures, hairbreadth escapes, and 
terrible encounters with the Indians, in 1856 he pur- 
chased a farm near Westport, Missouri ; but soon left it 
in his hunger for the mountains, to return to it only when 
worn-out and blind, to be buried there without even the 
rudest tablet to mark the spot. 

" I would rather sleep in the southern corner of a little 
country churchyard, than in the tomb of the Capulets." 
This quotation came to my mind one Sunday morning two 
or three years ago, as I mused over Bridger's neglected 
grave among the low hills beyond the quaint old tow,n of 
Westport. I thought I knew, as I stood there, that he 
whose bones were mouldering beneath the blossoming 
clover at my feet, would have wished for his last couch 
a more perfect solitude and isolation from the wearisome 
world's busy sound than even the immortal Burke. 

The grassy mound, over which there was no stone to 
record the name of its occupant, covered the remains of 
the last of his class, a type vanished forever, for the border 
is a thing of the past ; and upon the gentle breeze of that 
delightful morning, like the droning of bees in a full 
flowered orchard, was wafted to my ears the hum of Kan- 
sas City's civilization, only three or four miles distant, 
in all of which I was sure there was nothing that would 
have been congenial to the old frontiersman. 

At one time early in the '60's, while the engineers of the 
proposed Union Pacific Railway were temporarily in Den- 
ver, then an insignificant mushroom-hamlet, they became 
somewhat confused as to the most practicable point in the 
range over which to run their line. After debating the 
question, they determined, upon a suggestion from some 



KIT CARSON 329 

of the old settlers, to send for Jim Bridger, who was 
then visiting in St. Louis. A pass, via the overland stage, 
was enclosed in a letter to him, and he was urged to start 
for Denver at once, though nothing of the business for 
which his presence was required was told him in the text. 

In about two weeks the old man arrived, and the next 
morning, after he had rested, asked why he had been sent 
for from such a distance. 

The engineers then began to explain their dilemma. 
The old mountaineer waited patiently until they had 
finished, when, with a look of disgust on his withered 
countenance, he demanded a large piece of paper, remark- 
ing at the same time, — 

" I could a told you fellers all that in St. Louis, and 
saved you the expense of bringing me out here." 

He was handed a sheet of manilla paper, used for draw- 
ing the details of bridge plans. The veteran pathfinder 
spread it on the ground before him, took a dead coal from 
the ashes of the fire, drew a rough outline map, and point- 
ing to a certain peak just visible on the serrated horizon, 
said, — 

" There's where you fellers can cross with your road, and 
nowhere else, without more diggin' an' cuttin' than you 
think of." 

That crude map is preserved, I have been told, in the 
archives of the great corporation, and its line crosses the 
main spurs of the Rocky Mountains, just where Bridger 
said it could with the least work. 

The resemblance of old John Smith, another of the 
coterie, to President Andrew Johnson was absolutely as- 
tonishing. When that chief magistrate, in his " swinging 
around the circle," had arrived at St. Louis, and was rid- 
ing through the streets of that city in an open barouche, 
he was pointed out to Bridger, who happened to be there. 
But the venerable guide and scout, with supreme disgust 



330 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

depicted on his countenance at the idea of any one at- 
tempting to deceive him, said to his informant, — 

" H— 1 ! Bill, you can't fool me ! That's old John Smith." 

At one time many years ago, during Bridger's first visit 
to St. Louis, then a relatively small place, a friend acci- 
dentally came across him sitting on a dry-goods box in one 
of the narrow streets, evidently disgusted with his situation. 
To the inquiry as to what he was doing there all alone, 
the old man replied, — 

"I've been settin' in this infernal canon ever sence 
mornin', waitin' for some one to come along an' invite me 
to take a drink. Hundreds of fellers has passed both ways, 
but none of 'em has opened his head. I never seen sich a 
onsociable crowd ! " 

Bridger had a fund of most remarkable stories, which he 
had drawn upon so often that he really believed them to 
be true. 

General Gatlin, 1 who was graduated from West Point 
in the early '30's, and commanded Fort Gibson in the 
Cherokee Nation over sixty years ago, told me that he re- 
membered Bridger very well ; and had once asked the old 
guide whether he had ever been in the great canon of the 
Colorado River. 

"Yes, sir,"' replied the mountaineer, "I have, many a 
time. There's where the oranges and lemons bear all the 
time, and the only place I was ever at where the moon's 
always full ! " 

He told me and also many others, at various times, that 
in the winter of 1830 it began to snow in the valley of 
the Great Salt Lake, and continued for seventy cbiys with- 

1 General Gatlin was a North Carolinian, and seceded with his State at 
the breaking out o£ the Rebellion, but refused to leave his native heath to 
fight, so indelibly was he impressed with the theory of State rights. He 
was willing to defend the soil of North Carolina, but declined to step 
across its boundary to repel invasion in other States. 



KIT CARSON 331 

out cessation. The whole country was covered to a depth 
of seventy feet, and all the vast herds of buffalo were 
caught in the storm and died, but their carcasses were 
perfectly preserved. 

" When spring came, all I had to do," declared he, "was 
to tumble 'em into Salt Lake, an' I had pickled buffalo 
enough for myself and the whole Ute Nation for years ! " 

He said that on account of that terrible storm, which an- 
nihilated them, there have been no buffalo in that region 
since. 

Bridger had been the guide, interpreter, and companion 
of that distinguished Irish sportsman, Sir George Gore, 
whose strange tastes led him in 1855 to abandon life in 
Europe and bury himself for over two years among the 
savages in the wildest and most unfrequented glens of the 
Rocky Mountains. 

The outfit and adventures of this titled Nimrod, con- 
ducted as they were on the largest scale, exceeded any- 
thing of the kind ever before seen on this continent, and 
the results of his wanderings will compare favourably with 
those of Gordon dimming in Africa. 

Some idea may be formed of the magnitude of his out- 
fit when it is stated that his retinue consisted of about 
fifty individuals, including secretaries, steward, cooks, fly- 
makers, dog-tenders, servants, etc. He was borne over 
the country with a train of thirty wagons, besides numer- 
ous saddle-horses and dogs. 

During his lengthened hunt he killed the enormous 
aggregate of forty grizzly bears and twenty-five hundred 
buffalo, besides numerous antelope and other small game. 

Bridger said of Sir George that lie was a bold, dashing, 
and successful hunter, and an agreeable o-entleman. His 
habit was to lie in bed until about ten or eleven o'clock in 
the morning, then he took a bath, ate his breakfast, and 
set out, generally alone, for the day's hunt, and it was not 



332 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

unusual for him to remain oat until ten at night, seldom 
returning to the tents without augmenting the catalogue 
of his beasts. His dinner was then served, to which he 
generally extended an invitation to Bridger, and after the 
meal was over, and a few glasses of wine had been drunk, 
he was in the habit of reading from some book, and elicit- 
ing from Bridger his comments thereon. His favourite 
author was Shakespeare, which Bridger " reckin'd was too 
highfalutin" for him; moreover he remarked, "thet he 
rather calcerlated that thar big Dutchman, Mr. Full-stuff, 
was a leetle too fond of lager beer," and thought it would 
have been better for the old man if he had "stuck to 
Bourbon whiskey straight." 

Bridger seemed very much interested in the adventures 
of Baron Munchausen, but admitted after Sir George had 
finished reading them, that "he be dog'oned ef he swal- 
lered everything that thar Baron Munchausen said," and 
thought he was " a darned liar," yet he acknowledged that 
some of his own adventures among the Blackfeet would 
be equally marvellous " if writ down in a book." 

A man whose one act had made him awe-inspiring was 
Belzy Dodd. Uncle Dick Wooton, in relating the story, 
says : " I don't know what his first name was, but Belzy 
was what we called him. His head was as bald as a 
billiard ball, and he wore a wig. One day while we were 
all at Bent's Fort, while there were a great number of Ind- 
ians about, Belzy concluded to have a bit of fun. He 
walked around, eying the Indians fiercely for some time, 
and finally, dashing in among them, he gave a series of 
war-whoops which discounted a Comanche yell, and pulling 
off his wig, threw it down at the feet of the astonished and 
terror-stricken red men. 

The savages thought the fellow had jerked off his own 
scalp, and not one of them wanted to stay and see what 
would happen next. They left the fort, running like so 



KIT CAUSON 333 

many scared jack-rabbits, and after that none of them 
could be induced to approach anywhere near Dodd." 

They called him " The-white-man-who-scalps-himself," 
and Uncle Dick said that he believed he could have 
travelled across the plains alone with perfect safety. 

Jim Baker was another noted mountaineer and hunter 
of the same era as Carson, Bridger, Wooton, Hobbs, and 
many others. Next to Kit Carson, Baker was General 
Fremont's most valued scout. 

He was born in Illinois, and lived at home until he was 
eighteen years of age, when he enlisted in the service of 
the American Fur Company, went immediately to the 
Rocky Mountains, and remained there until his death. He 
married a wife according to the Indian custom, from the 
Snake tribe, living with her relatives many years and cul- 
tivating many of their habits, ideas, and superstitions. 
He firmly believed in the efficacy of the charms and in- 
cantations of the medicine men in curing diseases, divin- 
ing where their enemy was to be found, forecasting the 
result of war expeditions, and other such ridiculous mat- 
ters. Unfortunately, too. Baker would sometimes take 
a little more whiskey than he could conveniently carry, 
and often made a fool of himself, but he was a generous, 
noble-hearted fellow, who would risk his life for a friend at 
any time, or divide his last morsel of food. 

Like mountaineers generally, Baker was liberal to a 
fault, and eminently improvident. He made a fortune by 
his work, but at the annual rendezvous of the traders, at 
Bent's Fort or the old Pueblo, would throw awa}' the earn- 
ings of months in a few days' jollification. 

He told General Marcy, who was a warm friend of his, 
that after one season in which he had been unusually suc- 
cessful in accumulating a large amount of valuable furs, 
from the sale of which he had realized the handsome sum 
of nine thousand dollars, he resolved to abandon his 



334 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

mountain life, return to the settlements, buy a farm, and 
live comfortably during the remainder of his days. He 
accordingly made ready to leave, and was on the eve of 
starting when a friend invited him to visit a monte-bank 
which had been organized at the rendezvous. He was 
easily led away, determined to take a little social amuse- 
ment with his old comrade, whom he might never see again, 
and followed him; the result of which was that the whiskey 
circulated freely, and the next morning found Baker with- 
out a cent of money; he had lost everything. His entire 
plans were thus frustrated, and he returned to the moun- 
tains, hunting with the Indians until he died. 

Jim Baker's opinions of the wild Indians of the great 
plains and the mountains were very decided : " That they 
are the most onsartinist varmints in all creation, an' I 
reckon thar not more'n half human ; for you never seed a 
human, arter you'd fed an' treated him to the best fixin's in 
your lodge, jis turn round and steal all your horses, or ary 
other thing he could lay his hands on. No, not adzactly. 
He would feel kind o' grateful, and ask you to spread a 
blanket in his lodge ef you ever came his way. But the 
Injin don't care shucks for you, and is ready to do you a lot 
of mischief as soon as he quits your feed. No, Cap.," he 
said to Marcy when relating this, " it's not the right way 
to make 'em gifts to buy a peace ; but ef I war gov'nor 
of these United States, I'll tell what I'd do. I'd invite 'em 
all to a big feast, and make 'em think I wanted to have a 
talk ; and as soon as I got 'em together, I'd light in and 
raise the har of half of 'em, and then t'other half would be 
mighty glad to make terms that would stick. That's the 
way I'd make a treaty with the dog'oned red-bellied var- 
mints; and as sure as you're born, Cap., that's the only 
way." 

The general, when he first met Baker, inquired of him 
if he had travelled much over the settlements of the United 



■-. 



KIT CARSON 335 

States before he came to the mountains; to which he said: 
"Right smart, right smart, Cap." He then asked whether 
he had visited New York or New Orleans. "No, I hasn't, 
Cap., but I'll tell you whar I have been. I've been mighty 
nigh all over four counties in the State of Illinois ! " 

He was very fond of his squaw and children, and usually 
treated them kindly ; only when he was in liquor did he at 
all maltreat them. 

Once he came over into New Mexico, where General 
Marcy was stationed at the time, and determined that for 
the time being he would cast aside his leggings, moccasins, 
and other mountain dress, and wear a civilized wardrobe. 
Accordingly, he fitted himself out with one. When Marcy 
met him shortly after he had donned the strange clothes, 
he had undergone such an entire chancre that the general 
remarked he should hardly have known him. He did not 
take kindly to this, and said : " Consarn these store butes, 
Cap. ; they choke my feet like h — 1." It was the first time 
in twenty years that he had worn anything on his feet but 
moccasins, and they were not ready for the torture inflicted 
by breaking in a new pair of absurdly fitting boots. He 
soon threw them away, and resumed the softer foot-gear 
of the mountains. 

Baker was a famous bear hunter, and had been at the 
death of many a grizzly. On one occasion he was setting 
his traps with a comrade on the head waters of the Arkan- 
sas, when they suddenly met two young grizzly bears about 
the size of full-grown dogs. Baker remarked to his friend 
that if they could " light in and kill the varmints " with 
their knives, it would be a big thing to boast of. They 
both accordingly laid aside their rifles and "lit in," Baker 
attacking one and his comrade the other. The bears im- 
mediately raised themselves on their haunches, and were 
ready for the encounter. Baker ran around, endeavouring 
to get in a blow from behind with his long knife ; but the 



336 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

young brute he had tackled was too quick for him, and 
turned as he went around so as always to confront him 
face to face. He knew if he came within reach of his 
claws, that although young, he could inflict a formidable 
wound ; moreover, he was in fear that the howls of the 
cubs would bring the infuriated mother to their rescue, 
when the hunters' chances of getting away would be slim. 
These thoughts floated hurriedly through his mind, and 
made him desirous to end the fight as soon as he could. 
He made many vicious lunges at the bear, but the animal 
invariably warded them off with his strong fore legs like 
a boxer. This kind of tactics, however, cost the lively 
beast several severe cuts on his shoulders, which made him 
the more furious. At length he took the offensive, and 
with his mouth frothing with rage, bounded toward Baker, 
who caught and wrestled with him, succeeding in giving 1 
him a death-wound under the ribs. 

While all this was going on, his comrade had been furi- 
ously engaged with the other bear, and by this time had 
become greatly exhausted, with the odds decidedly against 
him. He entreated Baker to come to his assistance at 
once, which he did ; but much to his astonishment, as soon 
as he entered the second contest his comrade ran off, leav- 
ing him to fight the battle alone. He was, however, again 
victorious, and soon had the satisfaction of seeing his two 
antagonists stretched out in front of him, but as he ex- 
pressed it, " I made my mind up I'd never fight nary nother 
grizzly without a good shootin'-iron in my paws." 

He established a little store at the crossing of Green 
River, and had for some time been doing a fair business in 
trafficking with the emigrants and trading with the Indians ; 
but shortly a Frenchman came to the same locality and 
set up a rival establishment, which, of course, divided the 
limited trade, and naturally reduced the income of Baker's 
business. 



t 



KIT CARSON 337 

This engendered a bitter feeling of hostility, which soon 
culminated in a cessation of all social intercourse between 
the two men. About this time General Marcy arrived 
there on his way to California, and he describes the 
situation of affairs thus : — 

" I found Baker standing in his door, with a revolver 
loaded and cocked in each hand, very drunk and immensely 
excited. I dismounted and asked him the cause of all 
this disturbance. He answered: 'That thar yaller-bellied, 
toad-eatin' Parly Voo, over thar, an' me, we've been havin' 
a small chance of a scrimmage to-day. The sneakin' pole- 
cat, I'll raise his har yet, ef he don't quit these diggins' ! ' 

" It seems that they had an altercation in the morning, 
which ended in a challenge, when they ran to their cabins, 
seized their revolvers, and from the doors, which were only 
about a hundred yards from each other, fired. Then they 
retired to their cabins, took a drink of whiskey, reloaded 
their revolvers, and again renewed the combat. This 
strange duel had been going' on for several hours when 
I arrived, but, fortunately for them, the whiskey had such 
an effect on their nerves that their aim was very unsteady, 
and none of the shots had as yet taken effect. 

" I took away Baker's revolvers, telling him how ashamed 
I was to find a man of his usually good sense making such 
a fool of himself. He gave in quietly, saying that he 
knew I was his friend, but did not think I would wish to 
have him take insults from a cowardly Frenchman. 

"The following morning at daylight Jim called at my 
tent to bid me good-by,. and seemed very sorry for what 
had occurred the day before. He stated that this was 
the first time since his return from New Mexico that he 
had allowed himself to drink whiskey, and when the whis- 
key was in him he had ' nary sense.' " 

Among the many men who have distinguished them- 
selves as mountaineers, traders, and Indian fighters along 

z 



338 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

the line of the Old Trail, was one who eventually became 
the head chief of one of the most numerous and valorous- 
tribes of North American savages, — James P. Beckwourth. 
Estimates of him vary considerably. Francis Parkman, 
the historian, who I think never saw him and writes merely 
from hearsay, sa3 r s : " He is a ruffian of the worst class ; 
bloody and treacherous, without honor or honesty ; such, 
at least, is the character he bears on the great plains. Yet 
in his case the standard rules of character fail ; for though 
he will stab a man in his slumber, he will also do the most 
desperate and daring acts." 

I never saw Beckwourth, but I have heard of him from 
those of my mountaineer friends who knew him intimately; 
I think that he died long before Parkman made his tour to 
the Rocky Mountains. Colonel Boone, the Bents, Carson,. 
Maxwell, and others ascribed to him no such traits as 
those given by Parkman, and as to his honesty, it is an 
unquestioned fact that Beckwourth was the most honest 
trader among the Indians of all who were then engaged in 
the business. As Kit Carson and Colonel Boone were the 
only Indian agents whom I ever knew or heard of that 
dealt honestly with the various tribes, as they were always 
ready to acknowledge, and the withdrawal of the former 
by the government was the cause of a great war, so also 
Beckwourth was an honest Indian trader. 

He was a born leader of men, and was known from the 
Yellowstone to the Rio Grande, from Santa Fe' to Indepen- 
dence, and in St. Louis. From the latter town he ran 
away when a boy with a party of trappers, and himself 
became one of the most successful of that hardy class. 
The woman who bore him had played in her childhood 
beneath the palm trees of Africa ; his father was a native 
of France, and went to the banks of the wild Mississippi 
of his own free will, but probably also from reasons of 
political interest to his government. 



KIT CARSON 339 

Iii person Beckwourth was of medium height and great 
muscular power, quick of apprehension, and with courage 
of the highest order. Probably no man ever met with 
more personal adventures involving danger to life, even 
among the mountaineers and trappers who early in the 
century faced the perils of the remote frontier. From 
his neck he always wore suspended a jDerforated bullet, 
with a large oblong bead on each side of it, tied in place 
by a single thread of sinew. This amulet he obtained 
while chief of the Crows, 1 and it was his " medicine," 
with which he excited the superstition of his warriors. 

His success as a trader among the various tribes of 
Indians has never been surpassed; for his close intimacy 
with them made him know what would best please their 
taste, and they bought of him when other traders stood 
idly at their stockades, waiting almost hopelessly for 
customers. 

But Beckwourth himself said: "The traffic in whiskey 
for Indian property was one of the most infernal practices 
ever entered into by man. Let the most casual thinker 
sit down and figure up the profits on a forty-gallon cask 
of alcohol, and he will be thunderstruck, or rather whis- 
key-struck. When it was to be disposed of, four gallons 
of water were added to each gallon of alcohol. In two 
hundred gallons there are sixteen hundred pints, for each 
one of which the trader got a buffalo-robe worth five 
dollars. The Indian women toiled many long weeks to 
dress those sixteen hundred robes. The white traders got 
them for worse than nothing ; for the poor Indian mother 
hid herself and her children until the effect of the poison 
passed away from the husband and father, who loved 

'The name of "Crow," as applied to the once powerful nation of 
mountain Indians, is a misnomer, the fault of some early interpreter. The 
proper appellation is " Sparrowhawks," but they are officially recognized 
as " Crows." 



340 



THE OLD SANTA FK TRAIL 



them when he had no whiskey, and abused and killed 
them when he had. Six thousand dollars for sixty gal- 
lons of alcohol ! Is it a wonder with such profits that 
men got rich who were engaged in the fur trade ? Or 
was it a miracle that the buffalo were gradually exter- 
minated ? — killed with so little remorse that the hides, 
among the Indians themselves, were known by the ap- 
pellation of ' A pint of whiskey.' " 

Beckwourth claims to have established the Pueblo 
where the beautiful city of Pueblo, Colorado, is now situ- 
ated. He says: "On the 1st of October, 1842, on the 
Upper Arkansas, I erected a trading-post and opened a 
successful business. In a very short time I was joined by 
from fifteen to twenty free trappers, with their families. 
We all united our labour and constructed an adobe fort 
sixty yards square. By the following spring it had 
grown into quite a little settlement, and we gave it the 
name of Pueblo." 




CHAPTER XVII 

uncle dick wooton lucien b. maxwell old bill 

williams — tom tobin james hobbs william f. cody 

(buffalo bill). 



"Uncle Dick' l/ooton 



IMMEDIATELY after 
Kit Carson, the second 
wreath of pioneer lau- 
rels, for bravery and 
prowess as an Indian 
fighter, and trapper, 
must be conceded to 
Richens Lacy Wooton, 
known first as "Dick," 
in his younger days on 
the plains, then, when 
age had overtaken him, 
as " Uncle Dick." 
Born in Virginia, his 
father, when he was but 
seven years of age, removed 
with his family to Kentucky, 
where he cultivated a tobacco plantation. Like his prede- 
cessor and lifelong friend Carson, j'oung Wooton tired of 
the monotony of farming, and in the summer of 1836 made 
a trip to the busy frontier town of Independence, Missouri, 
where he found a caravan belonging' to Colonel St. Vrain 
and the Bents, already loaded, and ready to pull out for 
the fort built by the latter, and named for them. 

341 




342 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAII, 

Wooton had a fair business education, and was superior 
in this respect to his companions in the caravan to which 
he had attached himself. It was by those rough, but kind- 
hearted, men that he was called " Dick," as they could not 
readily master the more complicated name of " Richens." 

When he started from Independence on his initial trip 
across the plains, he was only nineteen, but, like all Ken- 
tuckians, perfectly familiar with a rifle, and could shoot 
out a squirrel's eye with the certainty which long practice 
and hardened nerves assures. 

The caravan, in which he was employed as a teamster, 
was composed of only seven wagons; but a larger one, 
in which were more than fifty, had preceded it, and as that 
was heavily laden, and the smaller one only lightly, it 
was intended to overtake the former before the dangerous 
portions of the Trail were reached, which it did in a few 
days and was assigned a place in the long line. 

Every man had to take his turn in standing guard, 
and the first night that it fell to young Wooton was at 
Little Cow Creek, in the Upper Arkansas valley. Nothing 
had occurred thus far during the trip to imperil the safety 
of the caravan, nor was any attack by the savages looked 
for. 

Wooton's post comprehended the whole length of one 
side of the corral, and his instructions were to shoot any- 
thin"' he saw movinsr outside of the line of mules farthest 
from the wagons. The young sentry was very vigilant. 
He did not feel at all sleepy, but eagerly watched for some- 
thing that might possibly come within the prescribed dis- 
tance, though not really expecting such a contingency. 

About two o'clock he heard a slight noise, and saw 
something moving about, sixty or seventy yards from 
where he was lying on the ground, to which he had dropped 
the moment the strange sound reached his ears. Of course, 
his first thoughts were of Indians, and the more he peered 



UNCLE DICK WOOTON 343 

through the darkness at the slowly moving object, the 
more convinced he was that it must be a blood-thirsty 
savage. 

He rose to his feet and blazed away, the shot rousing 
everybody, and all came rushing with their guns to learn 
what the matter was. 

Wooton told the wagon-master that he had seen what 
he supposed was an Indian trying to slip up to the mules, 
and that he had killed him. Some of the men crept very 
circumspectly to the spot where the supposed dead savage 
was lying, while young Wooton remained at his post 
eagerly waiting for their report. Presently he heard a 
voice cry out: "I'll be d — d ef he hain't killed 'Old 
Jack ! ' " 

" Old Jack " was one of the lead mules of one of the 
wagons. He had torn up his picket-pin and strayed out- 
side of the lines, with the result that the faithful brute 
met his death at the hands of the sentry. Wooton declared 
that he was not to be blamed ; for the animal had disobeyed 
orders, while he had strictly observed them ! 1 

At Pawnee Fork, a few days later, the caravan had a 
genuine tussle with the Comanehes. It was a bright moon- 
light night, and about two hundred of- the mounted savages 
attacked them. It was a rare thine for Indians to begin, a 
raid after dark, but they swept down on the unsuspecting 
teamsters, yelling like a host of demons. They were 
armed with bows and arrows generally, though a few of 
them had fusees. 2 They received a warm greeting, 
although they were not expected, the guard noticing the 
savages in time to prevent a stampede of the animals, 

1 Kit Carson, ten years before, when on his first journey, met with the 
same adventure while on post at Pawnee Rock. 

2 The fusee was a fire-lock musket with an immense bore, from which 
either slugs or balls could be shot, although not with any great degree of 
accuracy. 



344 THE OLD SANTA EE TRAIL 

which evidently was the sole purpose for which they came, 
as they did not attempt to break through the corral to get 
at the wagons. It was the mules they were after. They 
charged among the men, vainly endeavouring to frighten the 
animals and make them break loose, discharging showers 
of arrows as they rode by. The camp was too hot for' 
them, however, defended as it was by old teamsters who 
had made the dangerous passage of the plains many 
times before, and were up to all the Indian tactics. 
They failed to get a single mule, but paid for their temer- 
ity by leaving three of their party dead, just where they 
had been tumbled off their horses, not even having time 
to carry the bodies off, as they usually do. 

Wooton passed some time during the early days of his 
career at Bent's Fort, in 1836-37. He was a great favourite 
with both of the proprietors, and with them went to the 
several Indian villages, where he learned the art of trading 
with the savages. 

The winters of the years mentioned were noted for the 
incursions of the Pawnees into the region of the fort. 
They alwa}'S pretended friendship for the whites, when any 
of them were inside of its sacred precincts, but their whole 
manner changed when they by some stroke of fortune 
caught a trapper or hunter alone on the prairie or in the 
foot-hills; he was a dead man sure, and his scalp was soon 
dangling at the belt of his cowardly assassins. Hardly a 
day passed without witnessing some poor fellow running 
for the fort with a band of the red devils after him; fre- 
quently he escaped the keen edge of their scalping-knife, 
but every once in a while a man was killed. At one time, 
two herders who were with their animals within fifty yards 
of the fort, going out to the grazing ground, were killed 
and every hoof of stock run off. 

A party from the fort, comprising only eight men, 
among whom was young Wooton, made up for lost time 



UNCLE DICK WOOTON 345 

with the Indians, at the crossing of Pawnee Fork, the 
same place where he had had his first fight. The men had 
set out from the fort for the purpose of meeting a small 
caravan of wagons from the East, loaded with supplies for 
the Bents 1 trading post. It happened that a band of six- 
teen Pawnees were watching for the arrival of the train, 
too. 1 Wooton's party were well mounted, while the Paw- 
nees were on foot, and although the savages were two to 
one, the advantage was decidedly in favour of the whites. 
The Indians were armed with bows and arrows only, and 
while it was an easy matter for the whites to keep out of 
the way of the shower of missiles which the Indians com- 
menced to hurl at them, the latter became an easy prey to 
the unerring rifles of their assailants, who killed thirteen 
out of the sixteen in a very short time. The remaining 
three took French leave of their comrades at the begin- 
ning of the conflict, and abandoning their arms rushed up 
to the caravan, which was just appearing over a small 
divide, and gave themselves up. The Indian custom was 
observed in their case, 2 although it was rarely that any 
prisoners were taken in these conflicts on the Trail. 
Another curious custom was also followed. 3 When the 
party encamped they were well fed, and the next morning 
supplied with rations enough to last them until they could 
reach one of their villages, and sent off to tell their head 
chief what had become of the rest of his warriors. 

1 The Indians always knew when the caravans were to pass certain 
points on the Trail, hy their runners or spies probably. 

2 It was one of the rigid laws of Indian hospitality always to respect 
the person of any one who voluntarily entered their camps or temporary 
halting-places. As long as the stranger, red or white, remained with 
them, he enjoyed perfect immunity from harm ; but after he had left, 
although he had progressed but half a mile, it was just as honourable to 
follow and kill him. 

3 In their own fights with their enemies one or two of the defeated 
party are always spared, and sent back to their tribe to carry the news of 
the slaughter. 



346 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Wooton had an adventure once while he was stationed 
at Bent's Fort during a trading expedition with the Utes, 
on the Purgatoire, or Purgatory River, 1 about ten or 
twelve miles from Trinidad. He had taken with him, with 
others, a Shawnee Indian. Only a short time before their 
departure from the fort, an Indian of that tribe had been 
murdered by a Ute, and one day this Shawnee who was 
with Wooton spied a Ute, when revenge inspired him, and 
he forthwith killed his enemy. Knowing that as soon as 
the news of the shooting reached the Ute village, which 
was not a great distance off, the whole tribe would be 
down upon him, Wooton abandoned any attempt to trade 
with them and tried to get out of their country as quickly 
as he could. 

As he expected, the Utes followed on his trail, and came 
up with his little party on a prairie where there was not 
the slightest chance to ambush or hide. They had to 

1 The story of the way in which this name became corrupted into 
"Picketwire," by which it is generally known in New Mexico, is this: 
When Spain owned all Mexico and Florida, as the vast region of the 
Mississippi valley was called, long before the United States had an 
existence as a separate government, the commanding officer at Santa 
Fe" received an order to open communication with the country of Florida. 
For this purpose an infantry regiment was selected. It left Santa F£ 
rather late in the season, and wintered at a point on the Old Trail now 
known as Trinidad. In the spring, the colonel, leaving all camp-followers 
behind him, both men and women, marched down the stream, which flows 
for many miles through a magnificent canon. Not one of the regiment 
returned or was ever heard of. When all hope had departed from the 
wives, children, and friends left behind at Trinidad, information was sent 
to Santa F6, and a wail went up through the land. The priests and 
people then called this stream " El Rio de las Animas Perditas" ("The 
river of lost souls "). Years after, when the Spanish power was weakened, 
and French trappers came into the country under the auspices of the great 
fur companies, they adopted a more concise name ; they called the river 
" Le Purgatoire." Then came the Great American Bull-Whacker. Utterly 
unable to twist his tongue into any such Frenchified expression, he called 
the stream with its sad story " Picketwire," and by that name it is known 
to all frontiersmen, trappers, and the settlers along its banks. 



UNCLE DICK WOOTON 347 

fight, because they could not help it, but resolved to sell 
their lives' as dearly as possible, as the Utes outnumbered 
them twenty to one ; Wooton having only eight men with 
him, including the Shawnee. 

The pack-animals, of which they had a great many, 
loaded with the goods intended for the savages, were cor- 
ralled in a circle, inside of which the men hurried them- 
selves and awaited the first assault of the foe. In a few 
moments the Utes began to circle around the trappers and 
open fire. The trappers promptly responded, and they 
made every shot count; for all of the men, not even ex- 
cepting the Shawnee, were experts with the rifle. They 
did not mind the arrows which the Utes showered upon 
-them, as few, if any, reached to where they stood. The 
savages had a few guns, but they were of the poorest 
quality; besides, they did not know how to handle them 
then as they learned to do later, so their bullets were 
almost as harmless as their arrows. 

The trappers made terrible havoc among the Utes' 
horses, killing so many of them that the savages in despair 
abandoned the fight and gave Wooton and his men an 
opportunity to get away, which they did as rapidly as 
possible. 

The Raton Pass, through which the Old Trail ran, was 
a relatively fair mountain road, but originally it was al- 
most impossible for anything in the shape of a wheeled 
vehicle to get over the narrow rock-ribbed barrier ; saddle 
horses and pack-mules could, however, make the trip with- 
out much difficulty. It was the natural highway to 
southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico, but 
the overland coaches could not get to Trinidad by the 
shortest route, and as the caravans also desired to make 
the same line, it occurred to Uncle Dick that he would 
undertake to hew out a road through the pass, which, 
barring grades, should be as good as the average turnpike. 



348 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

He could see money in it for him, as he expected to charge 
toll, keeping the road in repair at his own expense, and he 
succeeded in procuring from the legislatures of Colorado 
and New Mexico charters covering the rights and privi- 
leges which he demanded for his project. 

In the spring of 1866, Uncle Dick took up his abode on 
the top of the mountains, built his home, and lived there 
until two years ago, when he died at a very ripe old age. 

The old trapper had imposed on himself anything but 
an easy task in constructing his toll-road. There were 
great hillsides to cut out, immense ledges of rocks to blast, 
bridges to build by the dozen, and huge trees to fell, be- 
sides long lines of difficult grading to engineer. 

Eventually Uncle Dick's road was a fact, but when it 
was completed, how to make it pay was a question that 
seriously disturbed his mind. The method he employed 
to solve the problem I will quote in his own words : " Such 
a thing as a toll-road was unknown in the country at that 
time. People who had come from the States understood, 
of course, that the object of building a turnpike was to 
enable the owner to collect toll from those who travelled 
over it,' but I had to deal with a great many people who 
seemed to think that they should be as free to travel over 
my well-graded and bridged roadway as they were to 
follow an ordinary cow path. 

" I may say that I had five classes of patrons to do 
business with. There was the stage company and its 
employees, the freighters, the military authorities, who 
marched troops and transported supplies over the road, 
the Mexicans, and the Indians. 

"With the stage company, the military authorities, and 
the American freighters I had no trouble. With the 
Indians, when a band came through now and then, I 
didn't care to have any controversy about so small a 
matter as a few dollars toll! Whenever they came along, 



UNCLE DICK WOOTON 349 

the toll-gate went up, and any other little thing I could 
do to hurry them on was done promptly and cheerfully. 
While the Indians didn't understand, anything about the 
S3"stem of collecting tolls, they seemed to recognize the 
fact that I had a right to control the road, and they would 
generally ride up to the gate and ask permission to go 
through. Once in a while the chief of a band would 
think compensation for the privilege of going through in 
order, and would make me a present of a buckskin or 
something of that sort. 

"My Mexican patrons were the hardest to get along 
with. Paying for the privilege of travelling over any 
road was something they were totally unused to, and they 
did not take to it kindly. They were pleased with my 
road and liked to travel over it, until they came to the 
toll-gate. This they seemed to look upon as an obstruc- 
tion that no man had a right to place in the way of a free- 
born native of the mountain region. They appeared to 
regard the toll-gate as a new scheme for holding up 
travellers for the purpose of robbery, and many of them 
evidently thought me a kind of freebooter, who ought to 
be suppressed by law. 

" Holding these views, when I asked them for a certain 
amount of money, before raising the toll-gate, they natu- 
rally differed with me very frequently about the propriety 
of complying with the request. 

"In other words, there would be at such times probably 
an honest difference of opinion between the man who kept 
the toll-gate and the man who wanted to get through it. 
Anyhow, there was a difference, and such differences had 
to be adjusted. Sometimes I did it through diplomacy, 
and sometimes I did it with a club. It was always settled 
one way, however, and that was in accordance with the 
toll schedule, so that I could never have been charged 
with unjust discrimination of rates." 



350 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Soon after the road was opened a company composed of 
Californians and Mexicans, commanded by a Captain 
Haley, passed Uncle Dick's toll-gate and house, escorting 
a large caravan of about a hundred and fifty wagons. 
While they stopped there, a non-commissioned officer of 
the party was brutally murdered by three soldiers, and 
Uncle Dick came very near being a witness to the atrocious 
deed. 

The murdered man was a Mexican, and his slayers were 
Mexicans too. The trouble originated at Las Vegas, 
where the privates had been bound and gagged, by order 
of the corporal, for creating a disturbance at a fandango 
the evening before. 

The name of the corporal was Juan Torres, and he came 
down to Uncle Dick's one evening while the command 
was encamped on the top of the mountain, accompanied 
by the three privates, who had already plotted to kill him, 
though he had not the slightest suspicion of.it. 

Uncle Dick, in telling the story, said: "They left at 
an early hour, going in an opposite direction from their 
camp, and I closed my doors soon after, for the night. 
They had not been gone more than half an hour, when I 
heard them talking not far from my house, and a few 
seconds later I heard the half-suppressed cry of a man who 
has received his death-blow. 

" I had gone to bed, and lay for a minute or two think- 
ing whether I should get up and go to the rescue or 
insure my own safety b} r remaining where I was. 

" A little reflection convinced me that the murderers 
were undoubtedly watching my house, to prevent any 
interference with the carrying out of their plot, and that 
if I ventured out I should only endanger my own life, 
while there was scarcely a possibility of my being able to 
save the life of the man who had been assailed. 

" In the morning, when I got up, I found the dead body 



UNCLE DICK WOOTON 351 

of the corporal stretched across Raton Creek, not more 
than a hundred yards from my house. 

" As I surmised, he had heen struck with a heavy club 
or stone, and it was at that time that I heard his cry. 
After that his brains bad been beaten out, and the body 
left where I had found it. 

"I at once notified Captain Haley of the occurrence, 
and identified the men who had been in company with 
the corporal, and who were undoubtedly his murderers. 

" They were taken into custody, and made a confession, 
in which they stated that one of their number had stood 
at my door on the night of the murder to shoot me if I had 
ventured out to assist the corporal. Two of the scoun- 
drels were hung afterward at Las Vegas, and the third 
sent to prison for life." 

The corporal was buried near where the soldiers were 
encamped at the time of the tragedy, and it is his lonely 
grave which frequently attracts the attention of the pas- 
sengers on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa F6 - trains, 
just before the Raton tunnel is reached, as they travel 
southward. 

In' 18(36-67 the Indians broke out, infesting all the 
most prominent points of the Old Santa Fe" Trail, and 
watching an opportunity to rob and murder, so that the 
government freight caravans and the stages had to be 
escorted by detachments of troops. Fort Larned was the 
western limit where these escorts joined the outfits going 
over into New Mexico. 

There were other dangers attending the passage of the 
Trail to travellers by the stage besides the attacks of the 
savages. These were the so-called road agents — masked 
robbers who regarded life as of little worth in the accom- 
plishment of their nefarious purposes. Particularly were 
they common after the mines of New Mexico began to be 
operated by Americans. The object of the bandits was 



352 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

generally the strong box of the express company, which 
contained money and other valuables. They did not, of 
course, hesitate to take what ready cash and jewelry the 
passengers might happen to have upon their persons, and 
frequently their hauls amounted to large sums. 

When the coaches began to travel over Uncle Dick's 
toll-road, his house was made a station, and he had many 
stage stories. He said: — 

"Tavern-keepers in those days couldn't choose their 
guests, and we entertained them just as they came along. 
The knights of the road would come by now and then, 
order a meal, eat it hurriedly, pay for it, and move on to 
where they had arranged to hold up a stage that night. 
Sometimes they did not wait for it to get dark, but halted 
the stage, went through the treasure box in broad daylight, 
and then ordered the driver to move on in one direction, 
while they went off in another. 

" One of the most daring and successful stage robberies 
that I remember was perpetrated by two men, when the 
east-bound coach was coming up on the south side of the 
Raton Mountains, one day about ten o'clock in the forenoon. 

" On the morning of the same day, a little after sunrise, 
two rather genteel-looking fellows, mounted on fine horses, 
rode up to my house and ordered breakfast. Being informed 
that breakfast would be ready in a few minutes, they dis- 
mounted, hitched their horses near the door, and came 
into the house. 

" I knew then, just as well as I do now, they were rob- 
bers, but I had no warrant for their arrest, and I should 
have hesitated about serving it if I had, because they 
looked like very unpleasant men to transact that kind of 
business with. 

"Each of them had four pistols sticking in his belt and 
a repeating rifle strapped on to his saddle. When they 
dismounted, they left their rifles with the horses, but 



UNCLE DICK WOOTON 353 

walked into the house and sat down at the table, without 
laying aside the arsenal which they carried in their belts. 

" They had little to say while eating, but were courteous 
in their behaviour, and very polite to the waiters. When 
they had finished breakfast, they paid their bills, and rode 
leisurely up the mountain. 

" It did not occur to me that they would take chances 
on stopping the stage in daylight, or I should have sent 
some one to meet the incoming coach, which I knew would 
be along shortly, to warn the driver and passengers to be 
on the lookout for robbers. 

" It turned out, however, that a daylight robbery was 
just what they had in mind, and they made a success of it. 

"About halfway down the New Mexico side of the 
mountain, where the caSon is very narrow, and was then 
heavily wooded on either side, the robbers stopped and 
waited for the coach. It came lumbering along by and 
by, neither the driver nor the passengers dreaming of a 
hold-up. 

" The first intimation they had of such a thing was when 
they saw two men step into the road, one on each side of 
the stage, each of them holding two cocked revolvers, one 
of which was brought to bear on the passengers and the 
other on the driver, who were politely but very positively 
told that they must throw up their hands without any un- 
necessary delay, and the stage came to a standstill. 

"There were four passengers in the coach, all men, but 
their hands went up at the same instant that the driver 
dropped his reins and struck an attitude that suited the 
robbers. 

" Then, while one of the men stood guard, the other 
stepped up to the stage and ordered the treasure box 
thrown off. This demand was complied with, and the box 
was broken and rifled of its contents, which fortunately 
were not of very great value. 

2 A 



354 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

"The passengers were compelled to hand out their 
watches and other jewelry, as well as what money they 
had in their pockets, and then the driver was directed to 
move up the road. In a minute after this the robbers 
had disappeared with their booty, and that was the last 
seen of them by that particular coach-load of passengers. 

" The men who planned and executed that robbery were 
two cool, level-headed, and daring scoundrels, known as 
'Chuckle-luck' and 'Magpie.' They were killed soon 
after this occurrence, by a member of their own band, 
whose name was Seward. A reward of a thousand dollars 
had been offered for their capture, and this tempted 
Seward to kill them, one night when they were asleep 
in camp. 

" He then secured a wagon, into which he loaded the 
dead robbers, and hauled them to Cimarron City, where 
he turned them over to the authorities and received his 
reward." 

Among the Arapahoes Wooton was called "Cut Hand," 
from the fact that he had lost two ringers on his left 
hand by an accident in his childhood. The tribe had the 
utmost veneration for the old trapper, and he was perfectly 
safe at any time in their villages or camps ; it had been 
the request of a dying chief, who was once greatly favoured 
by Wooton, that his warriors should never injure him 
although the nation might be at war with all the rest of 
the whites in the world. 

Uncle Dick died a few seasons ago, at the age of nearly 
ninety. He was blind for some time, but a surgical opera- 
tion partly restored his sight, which made the old man 
happy, because he could look again upon the beautiful 
scenery surrounding his mountain home, really the grand- 
est in the entire Raton Range. The Atchison, Topeka, and 
Santa F4 Railroad had one of its freight locomotives 
named " Uncle Dick," in honour of the veteran mountain- 



UNCLE' DICK WOOTON 355 

eer, past whose house it hauled the heavy-laden trains up 
the steep grade crossing into the valley beyond. At the 
time of its baptism, now fifteen or sixteen years ago, it 
was the largest freight engine in the world. 

Old Bill Williams was another character of the early 
days of the Trail, and was called so when Carson, Uncle 
Dick Wooton, and Maxwell were comparatively young 
in the mountains. He was, at the time of their advent 
in the remote West, one of the best known men there, 
and had been famous for years as a hunter and trapper. 
Williams was better acquainted with every pass in the 
Rockies than any other man of his time, and only sur- 
passed by Jim Bridger later. He was with General Fre- 
mont on his exploring expedition across the continent; 
but the statement of the old trappers, and that of General 
Fremont, in relation to his services then, differ widely. 
Fremont admits Williams' knowledge of the country over 
which he had wandered to have been very extensive, but 
when put to the test on the expedition, he came very near 
sacrificing the lives of all. This was probably owing to 
Williams' failing intellect, for when he joined the great 
explorer he was past the meridian of life. Now the old 
mountaineers contend that if Fremont had profited by the 
old man's advice, he would never have run into the death- 
trap which cost him three men, and in which he lost all 
his valuable papers, his instruments, and the animals which 
he and his party were riding. The expedition had fol- 
lowed the Arkansas River to its source, and the general 
had selected a route which he desired to pursue in crossing 
the mountains. It was winter, and Williams explained to 
him that it was perfectly impracticable to get over at that 
season. The general, however, ignoring the statement, 
listened to another of his party, a man who had no such 
experience but said that he could pilot the expedition. 
Before they had fairly started, they were caught in one 



356 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

of the most terrible snowstorms the region had ever wi£ 
nessed, in which all their horses and mules were literally 
frozen to death. Then, when it was too late, they turned 
back, abandoning their instruments, and able only to carry 
along a very limited stock of food. The storm continued 
to rage, so that even Williams failed to prevent them from 
getting lost, and they wandered about aimlessly for many 
days before they luckily arrived at Taos, suffering seri- 
ously from exhaustion and hunger. Three of the men 
were frozen to death on the return trip, and the remaining 
fifteen were little better than dead when Uncle Dick 
Wooton happened to run across them and piloted them 
into the village. It was immediately after this disaster 
that the three most noted men in the mountains — Carson, 
Maxwell, and Dick Owens — became the guides of the 
pathfinder, with whom he had no trouble, and to whom he 
owed more of his success than history has given them 
credit for. 

At one period of his eventful career, while he lived in 
Missouri, before he wandered to the mountains, Old Bill 
Williams was a Methodist preacher; of which fact lie 
boasted frequently while he trapped and hunted with 
other pioneers. Whenever he related that portion of 
his early life, he declared that he " was so well known in 
his circuit, that the chickens recognized him as he came 
riding by the scattered farmhouses, and the old roosters 
would crow ' Here comes Parson Williams ! One of us 
must be made ready for dinner.' " 

Upon leaving the States, he travelled very extensively 
among the various tribes of Indians who roamed over the 
great plains and in the mountains. When sojourning with 
a certain band, he would invariably adopt their manners 
and customs. Whenever he grew tired of that nation, he 
would seek another and live as they lived. He had been 
so long among the savages that he looked and talked like 



UNCLE DICK WOOTON 357 

one, and had imbibed many of their strange notions and 
curious superstitions. 

To the missionaries he was very useful. He possessed 
the faculty of easily acquiring languages that other white 
men failed to learn, and could readily translate the Bible 
into several Indian dialects. His own conduct, however, 
was in strange contrast with the precepts of the Holy 
Book with which he was so familiar. 

To the native Mexicans he was a holy terror and an 
unsolvable riddle. They thought him jnossessed of an 
evil spirit. He at one time took up his residence among 
them and commenced to trade. Shortly after he had estab- 
lished himself and gathered in a stock of goods, he became 
involved in a dispute with some of his customers in rela- 
tion to his prices. Upon this he apparently took an intense 
dislike to the people whom he had begun to traffic with, 
and in his disgust tossed his whole mass of goods into 
the street, and, taking up his rifle, left at once for the 
mountains. 

Among the many wild ideas he had imbibed from his 
long association with the Indians, was faith in their 
belief in the transmigration of souls. He used so to 
worry his brain for hours cogitating upon this intricate 
problem concerning a future state, that he actually pre- 
tended to know exactly the animal whose place he was 
destined to fill in the world after he had shaken off this 
mortal human coil. 

Uncle Dick Wooton told how once, when he, Old Bill 
Williams, and many other trappers, were lying around the 
camp-fire one night, the strange fellow, in a preaching 
style of delivery, related to them all how he was to be 
changed into a buck elk and intended to make his pasture 
in the very region where they then were. He described 
certain peculiarities which would distinguish him from 
the common run of elk, and was very careful to caution 



358 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

all those present never to shoot such an animal, should 
they ever run across him. 

Williams was regarded as a warm-hearted, brave, and 
generous man. He was at last killed by the Indians, 
while trading with them, but has left his name to many 
mountain peaks, rivers, and passes discovered by him. 

Tom Tobin, one of the last of the famous trappers, 
hunters, and Indian fighters to cross the dark river, flour- 
ished in the early days, when the Rocky Mountains were 
a veritable terra incognita to nearly all excepting the hardy 
employees of the several fur companies and the limited 
number of United States troops stationed in their remote 
wilds. 

Tom was an Irishman, quick-tempered, and a dead shot 
with either rifle, revolver, or the formidable bowie-knife. 
He would fight at the drop of the hat, but no man ever 
went away from his cabin hungry, if he had a crust to 
divide; or penniless, if there was anything remaining in 
his purse. 

He, like Carson, was rather under the average stature, 
red-faced, and lacking much of being an Adonis, but 
whole-souled, and as quick in his movements as an ante- 
lope. 

Tobin played an important role in avenging the death 
of the Americans killed in the Taos massacre, at the storm- 
ing of the Indian pueblo, but his greatest achievement 
was the ending of the noted bandit Espinosa's life, who, 
at the height of his career of blood, was the terror of the 
whole mountain region. 

At the time of the acquisition of New Mexico by the 
United States, Espinosa, who was a Mexican, owning 
vast herds of cattle and sheep, resided upon his ancestral 
hacienda in a sort of barbaric luxury, with a host of semi- 
serfs, known as Peons, to do his bidding, as did the other 
" Muy Ricos," the " Dons," so called, of his class of natives. 



UNCLE DICK WOOTON 359 

These self-styled aristocrats of the wild country all boasted 
of their Castilian blue blood, claiming descent from the 
nobles of Cortez' army, but the fact is, however, with rare 
exceptions, that their male ancestors, the rank and file 
of that army, intermarried with the Aztec women, and 
they were really only a mixture of Indian and Spanish. 

It so happened that Espinosa met an adventurous 
American, who, with hundreds of others, had been at- 
tached to the "Army of Occupation" in the Mexican 
War, or had emigrated from the States to seek their fort- 
unes in the newly acquired and much over-rated territory. 

The Mexican Don and the American became fast friends, 
the latter making his home with his newly found acquaint- 
ance at the beautiful ranch in the mountains, where they 
played the role of a modern Damon and Pythias. 

Now with Don Espinosa lived his sister, a dark-eyed, 
bewitchingly beautiful girl about seventeen 3'ears old, 
with whom the susceptible American fell deeply in love, 
and his affection was reciprocated by the maiden, with a 
fervour of which only the women of the race from which 
she sprang are capable. 

The fascinating American had brought with him from 
his home in one of the New England States a large 
amount of money, for his parents were rich, and spared 
no indulgence to their only son. He very soon unwisely 
made Espinosa his confidant, and told him of the wealth 
he possessed. 

One night after the American had retired to his cham- 
ber, adjoining that of his host, he was surprised, shortly 
after he had gone to bed, by discovering a man standing 
over him, whose hand had already grasped the buckskin 
bag under his pillow which contained a considerable por- 
tion of his gold and silver. He sprang from his couch 
and fired his pistol at random in the darkness at the 
would-be robber. 



360 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Espinosa, for it was he, was wounded slightly, and, 
being either enraged or frightened, he stabbed with his 
keen-pointed stiletto, which all Mexicans then carried, 
the 3'oung man whom he had invited to become his guest, 
and the blade entered the American's heart, killing him 
instantly. 

The report of the pistol-shot awakened the other mem- 
bers of the household, who came rushing into the room 
just as the victim was breathing his last. Among them 
was the sister of the murderer, who, throwing herself on 
the body of her dead lover, poured forth the most bitter 
curses upon her brother. 

Espinosa, realizing the terrible position in which he 
had placed himself, then and there determined to become 
an outlaw, as he could frame no excuse for his wicked 
deed. He therefore hid himself at once in the moun- 
tains, carrying with him, of course, the sack containing 
the murdered American's money. 

Some time necessarily passed before he could get together 
a sufficient number of cut-throats and renegades from jus- 
tice to enable him wholly to defy the authorities ; but at 
last he succeeded in rallying a strong force to his stand- 
ard of blood, and became the terror of the whole region, 
equalling in boldness and audacity the terrible Joaquin, 
of California notoriety in after years. 

His headquarters were in the almost impregnable fast- 
nesses of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, from which he 
made his invariably successful raids into the rich valleys 
below. There was nothing too bloody for him to shrink 
from; he robbed indiscriminately the overland coaches to 
Santa Fe\ the freight caravans of the traders and govern- 
ment, the ranches of the Mexicans, or stole from the poorer 
classes, without any compunction. He ran off horses, 
cattle, sheep, — in fact, anything that he could utilize. 
If murder was necessary to the completion of his work, 



UNCLE DICK WOOTON 361 

he never for a moment hesitated. Kidnapping, too, was a 
favourite pastime ; but he rarely carried away to his ren- 
dezvous any other than the most beautiful of the New 
Mexican young girls, whom he held in his mountain den 
until they were ransomed, or subjected to a fate more 
terrible. 

In 186-1 the bandit, after nearly ten years of unpar- 
alleled outlawry, was killed by Tobin. Tom had been 
on his trail for some time, and at last tracked him to a 
temporary camp in the foot-hills, which he accidentally 
discovered in a grove of cottonwoods, by the smoke 
of the little camp-fire as it curled in light wreaths above 
the trees. 

Tobin knew that at the time there was but one of Espi- 
nosa's followers with him, as he had watched them both 
for some days, waiting for an opportunity to get the drop 
on them. To capture the pair of outlaws alive never 
entered his thoughts ; he was as cautious as brave, and to 
get them dead was much safer and easier ; so he crept up 
to the grove on his belly, Indian fashion, and lying behind 
the cover of a friendly log, waited until the noted desperado 
stood up, when he pulled the trigger of his never-erring 
rifle, and Espinosa fell dead. A second shot quickly 
disposed of his companion, and the old trapper's mission 
was accomplished. 

To be able to claim the reward offered by the authorities, 
Tom had to prove, beyond the possibility of doubt, that 
those whom he had killed were the dreaded bandit and 
one of his gang. He thought it best to cut off their 
heads, which he deliberately did, and packing them on 
his mule in a gunny-sack, he brought them into old Fort 
Massachusetts, afterward Fort Garland, where they were 
speedily recognized; but whether Tom ever received the 
reward, I have my doubts, as he never claimed that he 
did. Tobin died only a short time ago, gray, grizzled, 



362 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

and venerable, his memory respected by all who had ever 
met him. 

James Hobbs, among all the men of whom I have 
presented a hurried sketch, had perhaps a more varied 
experience than any of his colleagues. During his 
long life on the frontier, he was in turn a prisoner among 
the savages, and held for years by them ; an excellent sol- 
dier in the war with Mexico; an efficient officer in the 
revolt against Maximilian, when the attempt of Napoleon 
to establish an empire on this continent, with that unfor- 
tunate prince at its head, was defeated; an Indian fighter; 
a miner; a trapper; a trader, and a hunter. 

Hobbs was born in the Shawnee nation, on the Big 
Blue, about twenty-three miles from Independence, Mis- 
souri. His early childhood was entrusted to one of his 
father's slaves. Reared on the eastern limit of the border, 
he very soon became familiar with the use of the rifle and 
shot-gun ; in fact, he was the principal provider of all the 
meat which the family consumed. 

In 1835, when only sixteen, he joined a fur-trading 
expedition under Charles Bent, destined for the fort on 
the Arkansas River built by him and his brothers. 

They arrived at the crossing of the Santa Fe" Trail over 
Pawnee Fork without special adventure, but there they 
had the usual tussle with the savages, and Hobbs killed his 
first Indian. Two of the traders were pierced with arrows, 
but not seriously hurt, and the Pawnees — the tribe which 
had attacked the outfit — were driven away discomfited, 
not having been successful in stampeding a single animal. 

When the party reached the Caches, on the Upper 
Arkansas, a smoke rising on the distant horizon, beyond 
the sand hills south of the river, made them proceed cau- 
tiously ; for to the old plainsmen, that far-off wreath 
indicated either the presence of the savages, or a signal to 
others at a greater distance of the approach of the trappers. 



UNCLE DICK WOOTON 363 

The next morning, nothing having occurred to delay 
the march, buffalo began to appear, and Hobbs killed three 
of them. A cow, which he bad wounded, ran across the 
Trail in front of the train, and Hobbs dashed after her, 
wounding her with his pistol, and then she started to 
swim the river. Hobbs, mad at the jeers which greeted 
him from the men at his missing the animal, started for 
the last wagon, in which was his rifle, determined to kill 
the brute that had enraged him. As he was riding along 
rapidly, Bent cried out to him, — 

"Don't try to follow that cow; she is going straight 
for that smoke, and it means Injuns, and no good in 'em 
either." 

"But I'll get her," answered Hobbs, and he called to 
his closest comrade, John Baptiste, a bo}*- of about his own 
age, to go and get his pack-mule and come along. "All 
right," responded John; and together the two inexperi- 
enced youngsters crossed the river against the protests of 
the veteran leader of the party. 

After a chase of about three miles, the boys came up 
with the cow, but she turned and showed fight. Finally 
Hobbs, by riding around her, got in a good shot, which 
killed her. Jumping off their animals, both boys busied 
themselves in cutting out the choice jjieces for their sup- 
per, packed them on the mule, and started back for the 
train. But it had suddenly become very dark, and they 
were in doubt as to the direction of the Trail. 

Soon night came on so rapidly that neither could they 
see their own tracks by which they had come, nor the thin 
fringe of cottonwoods that lined the bank of the stream. 
Then they disagreed as to which was the right way. 
John succeeded in persuading Hobbs that he was correct, 
and the latter gave in, very much against his own belief 
on the subject. 

They travelled all night, and when morning came, were 



364 THE OLD SANTA EE TRAIL 

bewilderingly lost. Then Hobbs resolved to retrace the 
tracks by which, now that the sun was up, he saw that 
they had been going south, right away from the Arkansas. 
Suddenly an immense herd of buffalo, containing at least 
two thousand, dashed by the boys, filling the air with the 
dust raised by their clattering hoofs, and right behind them 
rode a hundred Indians, shooting at the stampeded animals 
with their arrows. 

" Get into that ravine ! " shouted Hobbs to his compan- 
ion. " Throw away that meat, and run for your life ! " 

It was too late ; just as they arrived at the brink of the 
hollow, they looked back, and close behind them were a 
dozen Comanches. 

The savages rode up, and one of the party said in very 
good English, " How d' do?" 

" How d' do ? " Hobbs replied, thinking it would be 
better to be as polite as the Indian, though the state 
of the latter's health just then was a matter of small 
concern. 

"Texas?" inquired the Indian. The Comanches had 
good reasons to hate the citizens of that country, and it 
was a lucky thing for Hobbs that he had heard of their 
prejudice from the trappers, and possessed presence of mind 
to remember it. He replied promptly : " No, friendly ; 
going to establish a trading-post for the Comanches." 

" Friendly ? Better go with us, though. Got any 
tobacco? " 

Hobbs had some of the desired article, and he was not 
long in handing it over to his newly found friend. 

Both of the boys were escorted to the temporary camp 
of the savages, but the original number of their captors 
was increased to over a thousand before they arrived there. 
They were supplied with some dried buffalo-meat, and 
then taken to the lodge of Old Wolf, the head chief of 
the tribe. 



UNCLE DICK WOOTON 365 

A council was called immediately to consider what dis- 
position should be made of them, but nothing was decided 
upon, and the assembly of warriors adjourned until morn- 
ing. Hobbs told me that it was because Old Wolf had 
imbibed too much brandy, a bottle of which Baptiste had 
brought with him from the train, and which the thirsty 
warrior saw suspended from his saddle-bow as they rode 
up to the chief's lodge ; the aged rascal got beastly drunk. 

About noon of the next day, after the dispersion of the 
council, the boys were informed that if they were not 
Texans, would behave themselves, and not attempt to run 
away, they might stay with the Indians, who would not 
kill them; but a string of dried scalps was pointed out, 
hanging on a lodge pole, of some Mexicans whom they 
had captured and put to herding their ponies, and who 
had tried to get awa}'. They succeeded in making a few 
miles ; the Indians cbased them, after deciding in council, 
that, if caught, only their scalps were to be brought back. 
The moral of this was that the same fate awaited the boys 
if they followed the example of the foolish Mexicans. 

Hobbs had excellent sense and judgment, and he knew 
that it would be the height of folly for him and Baptiste, 
mere boys, to try and reach either Bent's Fort or the 
Missouri River, not having the slightest knowledge of 
where they were situated. 

Hobbs grew to be a great favourite with the Comanches ; 
was given the daughter of Old Wolf in marriage, became 
a great chief, fought man}^ hard battles with his savage 
companions, and at last, four years after, was redeemed by 
Colonel Bent, who paid Old Wolf a small ransom for 
him at the Fort, where the Indians had come to trade. 
Baptiste, whom the Indians never took a great fancy to, 
because he did not develop into a great warrior, was 
also ransomed by Bent, his price being only an antiquated 
mule. 



.366 THE OLD SANTA FE TKAIL 

At Bent's Fort Hobbs went out trapping under the 
leadership of Kit Carson, and they became lifelong friends. 
In a short time Hobbs earned the reputation of being an 
excellent mountaineer, trapper, and as an Indian fighter 
he was second to none, his education among the Comanches 
having trained him in all the strategy of the savages. 

After going through the Mexican War with an excellent 
record, Hobbs wandered about the country, now engaged 
in mining in old Mexico, then fighting the Apaches under 
the orders of the governor of Chihuahua, and at the end 
of the campaign going back to the Pacific coast, where 
he entered into new pursuits. Sometimes he was rich, 
then as poor as one can imagine. He returned to old 
Mexico in time to become an active partisan in the revolt 
which overthrew the short-lived dynasty of Maximilian, 
and was present at the execution of that unfortunate 
prince. Finally he retired to the home of his childhood 
in the States, where he died a few months ago, full of 
years and honours. 

William F. Cody, " Buffalo Bill," is one of the famous 
plainsmen, of later days, however, than Carson, Bridger, 
John Smith, Maxwell, and others whom I have mentioned. 
The mantle of Kit Carson, perhaps, fits more perfectly the 
shoulders of Cody than those of any other of the great 
frontiersman's successors, and he has had some experiences 
that surpassed anything which fell to their lot. 

He was born in Iowa, in 1845, and when barely seven 
years old his father emigrated to Kansas, then far remote 
from civilization. 

Thii^-six years ago, he was employed as guide and 
scout in an expedition against the Kiowas and Comanches, 
and his line of duty took him along the Santa Fe Trail all 
one summer when not out as a scout, carrying despatches 
between Fort Lyon and Fort Larned, the most important 
military posts on the great highway as well as to far-off 



I 



■ ■ ' 

tentei 

i 

. ■ 
. ■ ._;.■; < ■ !3M1 






; 



GOVERNMENT SCOUTS— MOONLIGHT 



UNCLE DICK WOOTON 367 

Fort Leavenworth on the Missouri River, the headquarters 
of the department. Fort Larned was the general rendez- 
vous of all the scouts on the Kansas and Colorado plains, 
the chief of whom was a veteran interpreter and guide, 
named Dick Curtis. 

When Cody first reported there for his responsible duty, 
a large camp of the Kiowas and Comanches was established 
within sight of the fort, whose warriors had not as yet put 
on their war-paint, but were evidently restless and dis- 
contented under the restraint of their chiefs. Soon those 
leading men, Satanta, Lone Wolf, Satank, and others of 
lesser note, grew rather impudent and haughty in their 
deportment, and they were watched witli much concern. 
The post was garrisoned by only two companies of infantry 
and one of cavalry. 

General Hazen, afterward chief of the signal service in 
Washington, was at Fort Larned at the time, endeavouring 
to patch up a peace with the savages, who seemed deter- 
mined to break out. Cody was special scout to the gen- 
eral, and one morning he was ordered to accompany him 
as far as Fort Zarah, on the Arkansas, near the mouth of 
Walnut Creek, in what is now Barton County, Kansas, 
the general intending to go on to Fort Harker, on the 
Smoky Hill. In making these trips of inspection, with 
incidental collateral duties, the general usually travelled 
in an ambulance, but on this journey he rode in a six-mule 
army-wagon, escorted by a detachment of a score of in- 
fantry. It was a warm August day, and an early start 
was made, which enabled them to reach Fort Zarah, over 
thirty miles distant, by noon. After dinner, the general 
proposed to go on to Fort Harker, forty-one miles away, 
without any escort, leaving orders for Cody to return to 
Fort Larned the next day, with the soldiers. But Cody, 
ever impatient of delay when there was. work to do, noti- 
fied the sergeant in charge of the men that he was going 



368 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

back that very afternoon. I tell the story of his trip as 
he has often told it to me, and as he has written it in his 
autobiography. 

" I accordingly saddled up my mule and set out for 
Fort Larned. I proceeded on uninterruptedly until I got 
about halfway between the two posts, when, at Pawnee 
Rock, I was suddenly jumped by about forty Indians, who 
came dashing up to me, extending their hands and sajdng, 
' How ! How ! ' They were some of the Indians who 
had been hanging around Fort Larned in the morning. I 
saw they had on their war-paint, and were evidently now 
out on the war-path. ■ 

" My first impulse was to shake hands with them, as 
they seemed so desirous of it. I accordingly reached out 
m} T hand to one of them, who grasped it with a tight grip, 
and jerked me violently forward; then pulled my mule by 
the bridle, and in a moment I was completely surrounded. 
Before I could do anything at all, they had seized my 
revolvers from the holsters, and I received a blow on the 
head from a tomahawk which nearly rendered me senseless. 
My gun, which was lying across the saddle, was snatched 
from its place, and finally the Indian who had hold of the 
bridle started off toward the Arkansas River, leading the 
mule, which was being lashed by the other Indians, who 
were following. The savages were all singing, yelling, 
and whooping, as only Indians can do, when they are 
having their little game all their own way. While look- 
ing toward the river, I saw on the opposite side an im- 
mense village moving along the bank, and then I became 
convinced that the Indians had left the post and were 
now starting out on the war-path. My captors crossed 
the stream with me, and as we waded through the shallow 
water they continued to lash the mule and myself. Finally 
they brought me before an important-looking body of Ind- 
ians, who proved to be the chiefs and principal warriors. 



UNCLE DICK WOOTON 309 

I soon recognized old Satanta among them, as well as 
others whom I knew, and supposed it was all over 
with me. 

"The Indians were jabbering away so rapidly among 
themselves that I could not understand what they were 
saying. Satanta at last asked me where I had been. As 
good luck would have it, a happy thought struck me. I 
told him I had been after a herd of cattle, or ' whoa-haws,' 
as they called them. It so happened that the Indians had 
been out of meat for several weeks, as the large herd of 
cattle which had been promised them had not yet arrived, 
although they expected them. 

" The moment I mentioned that I had been searching 
for ' whoa-haws,' old Satanta began questioning me in a 
very eager manner. He asked me where the cattle were, 
and I replied that they were back a few miles, and that I 
had been sent by General Hazen to inform him that the 
cattle were coming, and that they were intended for his 
people. This seemed to please the old rascal, who also 
wanted to know if there were any soldiers with the herd, 
and my reply was that there were. Thereupon the chiefs 
held a consultation, and presently Satanta asked me if 
General Hazen had really said that they should have the 
cattle. I replied in the affirmative, and added that I had 
been directed to bring the cattle to them. I followed this 
up with a very dignified inquiry, asking why his young 
men had treated me so. The old wretch intimated that it 
was only a ' freak of the boys ' ; that the young men wanted 
to see if I was brave ; in fact, they had only meant to test 
me, and the whole thing was a joke. 

" The veteran liar was now beating me at my own game 
of lying, but I was very glad, as it was in my favour. I 
did not let him suspect that I doubted his veracity, but 
I remarked that it was a rough way to treat friends. He 
immediately ordered his young men to give back my arms, 

2 B 



370 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

and scolded them for what they had done. Of course, the 
sly old dog was now playing it very fine, as he was anxious 
to get possession of the cattle, with which he believed 
there was a ' heap ' of soldiers coming. He had concluded 
it was not best to fight the soldiers if he could get the 
cattle peaceably. 

" Another council was held by the chiefs, and in a few 
minutes old Satanta came and asked me if I would go to 
the river and bring the cattle down to the opposite side, so 
that they could get them. I replied, ' Of course ; that's 
my instruction from General Hazen.' 

" Satanta said I must not feel angry at his young men, 
for they had only been acting in fun. He then inquired 
if I wished any of his men to accompany me to the cattle 
herd. I replied that it would be better for me to go 
alone, and then the soldiers could keep right on to Fort 
Larned, while I could drive the herd down on the bottom. 
Then wheeling my mule around, I was soon recrossing 
the river, leaving old Satanta in the firm belief that I had 
told him a straight story, and that I was going for the 
cattle which existed only in my imagination. 

" I hardly knew what to do, but thought that if I could 
get the river between the Indians and myself, I would 
have a good three-quarters of a mile the start of them, and 
could then make a run for Fort Larned, as my mule was a 
good one. 

" Thus far my cattle story had panned out all right ; 
but just as I reached the opposite bank of the river, I 
looked behind me and saw that ten or fifteen Indians, who 
had begun to suspect something crooked, were following 
me. The moment that my mule secured a good foothold 
on the bank, I urged him into a gentle lope toward the 
place where, according to my statement, the cattle were to 
be brought. Upon reaching a little ridge and riding down 
the other side out of view, I turned my mule and headed 



UNCLE DICK WOOTON 371 

him westward for Fort Lamed. I let him out for all 

that he was worth, and when I came out on a little rise of 
ground, I looked back and saw the Indian village in plain 
sight. My pursuers were now on the ridge which I had 
passed over, and were looking for me in every direction. 

" Presently they spied me, and seeing that I was running 
away, they struck out in swift pursuit, and in a few min- 
utes it became painfully evident they were gaining on me. 
They kept up the chase as far as Ash Creek, six miles from 
Fort Lamed. I still led them half a mile, as their horses 
had not gained much during the last half of the race. My 
mule seemed to have gotten his second wind, and as I 
was on the old road, I pla}'ed the spurs and whip on him 
without much cessation ; the Indians likewise urged their 
steeds to the utmost. 

" Finally, upon reaching the dividing ridge between Ash 
Creek and Pawnee Fork, I saw Fort Lamed only four miles 
away. It was now sundown, and I heard the evening gun. 
The troops of the small garrison little dreamed there was 
a man flying for his life and trying to reach the post. 
The Indians were once more gaining on me, and when 1 
crossed the Pawnee Fork two miles from the post, two or 
three of them were only a quarter of a mile behind me. 
Just as I gained the opposite bank of the stream, I was 
overjoyed to see some soldiers in a government wagon 
only a short distance off. I yelled at the top of my voice, 
and riding up to them, told them that the Indians were 
after me. v 

" ' Denver Jim,' a well-known scout, asked me how many 
there were, and upon my informing him that there were 
about a dozen, he said : ' Let's drive the wagon into the 
trees, and we'll lay for 'em.' The team was hurriedly 
driven among the trees and low box-elder bushes, and 
there secreted. 

" We did not have to wait long for the Indians, who 



372 



THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 



came dashing up, lashing their ponies, which were panting 
and blowing. We let two of them pass by, but we opened 
a lively fire on the next three or four, killing two of them 
at the first crack. The others following discovered that 
they had run into an ambush, and whirling off into the 
brush, they turned and ran back in the direction whence 
they had come. The two who had passed by heard the 
firing and made their escape. We scalped the two that 
we had killed, and appropriated their arms and equip- 
ments ; then, catching their ponies, we made our way into 
the Post." 




/fa/can- 
florxmdn- 



CHAPTER XVIII 



MAXWELL'S RANCH ON THE OLD SANTA FB TRAIL A PICTUR- 
ESQUE REGION MAXWELL A TRAPPER AND HUNTER WITH 

THE AMERICAN EUR COMPANY — LIFELONG COMRADE OF 

KIT CARSON SOURCES OF MAXWELL'S WEALTH FOND OF 

HORSE-RACING A DISASTROUS FOURTH-OF-JULY CELEBRA- 
TION ANECDOTE OF KIT CARSON DISCOVERY OF GOLD ON 

THE RANCH THE BIG DITCH ISSUING BEEF TO THE UTE 

INDIANS CAMPING OUT WITH MAXWELL AND CARSON A 

STORY OF THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 



/uaenS/laxue//- 



NE of the most interest- 
ing and picturesque re- 
gions of all New Mexico 
is the immense tract of 
nearly two million acres 
known as Maxwell's 
Ranch, through which 
the Old Trail ran, and the title 
to which was some years since 
determined by the Supreme 
Court of the United States in 
favour of an alien company. 1 
Dead long ago, Maxwell belonged 
a generation and a class almost 
completely extinct, and the like of which 
will, in all probability, never b.e seen again ; for there is 
no more frontier to develop them. 

1 The ranch is now in charge of Mr. Harry Whigham, an English 
gentleman, who keeps up the old hospitality of the famous place. 

373 




374 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Several years prior to the acquisition of the territory 
by the United States, the immense tract comprised in 
the geographical limits of the ranch was granted to 
Carlos Beaubien and Guadalupe Miranda, both citizens of 
the province of New Mexico, and agents of the American 
Fur Company. Attached to the company as an employer, 
a trapper, and hunter, was Lucien B. Maxwell, an Illi- 
noisan by birth, who married a daughter of Beaubien. 
After the death of the latter Maxwell purchased all the 
interest of the joint proprietor, Miranda, and that of the 
heirs of Beaubien, thus at once becoming the largest land- 
owner in the United States. 

At the zenith of his influence and wealth, during the 
War of the Rebellion, when New Mexico was isolated 
and almost independent of care or thought by the govern- 
ment at Washington, he lived in a sort of barbaric splen- 
dour, akin to that of the nobles of England at the time 
of the Norman conquest. 

The thousands of arable acres comprised in the many 
fertile valleys of his immense estate were farmed in a 
primitive, feudal sort of way, by native Mexicans princi- 
pally, under the system of peonage then existing in the 
Territory. He employed about five hundred men, and 
they were as much his thralls as were Gurth and Wamba 
of Cedric of Rotherwood, only they wore no engraved 
collars around their necks bearing their names and that 
of their master. Maxwell was not a hard governor, and 
his people really loved him, as he was ever their fiiend 
and adviser. 

His house was a palace when coirqmred with the pre- 
vailing style of architecture in that country, and cost an 
immense sum of money. It was large and roomy, purely 
American in its construction, but the manner of conduct- 
ing it was strictly Mexican, varying between the customs 
of the higher and lower classes of that curious people. 



MAXWELL'S RANCH 375 

Some of its apartments were elaborately furnished, 
others devoid of everything except a table for card-play- 
ing and a- game's complement of chairs. The principal 
room, an extended rectangular affair, which might prop- 
erly have been termed the Baronial Hall, was almost bare 
except for a few chairs, a couple of tables, and an anti- 
quated bureau. There Maxwell received his friends, 
transacted business with his vassals, and held high carnival 
at times. 

I have slept on its hardwood floor, rolled up in my 
blanket, with the mighty men of the Ute nation lying 
heads and points all around me, as close as they could 
possibly crowd, after a day's fatiguing hunt in the moun- 
tains. I have sat there in the long winter evenings, when 
the great room was lighted only by the cheerful blaze of 
the crackling logs roaring up the huge throats of its two 
fireplaces built diagonally across opposite corners, watch- 
ing Maxwell, Kit Carson, and half a dozen chiefs silently 
interchange ideas in the wonderful sign language, until 
the glimmer of Aurora announced the advent of another 
day. But not a sound had been uttered during the pro- 
tracted hours, save an occasional grunt of satisfaction on 
the part of the Indians, or when we white men exchanged 
a sentence. 

Frequently Maxwell and Carson would play the game 
of seven-up for hours at a time, seated at one of the tables. 
Kit was usually the victor, for he was the greatest expert 
in that old and popular pastime I have ever met. Max- 
well was an inveterate gambler, but not by any means in 
a professional sense; he indulged in the hazard of the 
cards simply for the amusement it afforded him in his 
rough life of ease, and he could very well afford the losses 
which the pleasure sometimes entailed. His special pen- 
chant, however, was betting on a horse race, and his own 
stud comprised some of the fleetest animals in the Terri- 



376 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

tory. Had he lived in England he might have ruled the 
turf, but many jobs were put up on him by unscrupulous 
jockeys, by which he -was outrageously defrauded of 
immense sums. 

He was fond of cards, as I have said, both of the purely 
American game of poker, and also of old sledge, but rarely 
played except with personal friends, and never without 
stakes. He always exacted the last cent he had won, 
though the next morning, perhaps, he would present 
or loan his unsuccessful opponent of the night before five 
hundred or a thousand dollars, if he needed it; an immensely 
greater sum, in all probability, than had been gained in 
the game. 

The kitchen and dining-rooms of his princely establish- 
ment were detached from the main residence. There was 
one of the latter for the male portion of his retinue and 
guests of that sex, and another for the female, as, in ac- 
cordance with the severe, and to us strange, Mexican 
etiquette, men rarely saw a woman about the premises, 
though there were many. Only the quick rustle of a 
skirt, or a hurried view of a reboso, as its wearer flashed 
for an instant before some window or half-open door, told 
of their presence. 

The greater portion of his table-service was solid silver, 
and at his hospitable board there were rarely any vacant 
chairs. Covers were laid daily for about thirty persons ; 
for he had always many guests, invited or forced upon 
him in consequence of his proverbial munificence, or by 
the peculiar location of his manor-house which stood upon 
a magnificently shaded plateau at the foot of mighty 
mountains, a short distance from a ford on the Old Trail. 
As there were no bridges over the uncertain streams of 
the great overland route in those days, the ponderous 
Concord coaches, with their ever-full burden of passen- 
gers, were frequently water-bound, and Maxwell's the 



MAXVfELL'S RANCH 377 

only asylum from the storm and flood; consequently he 
entertained many. 

At all times, and in all seasons, the group of build- 
ings, houses, stables, mill, store, and their surrounding 
grounds, were a constant resort and loafing-place of 
Indians. From the superannuated chiefs, who revelled 
lazily during the sunny hours in the shady peaceful- 
ness of the broad porches ; the young men of the tribe, who 
gazed with covetous eyes upon the sleek-skinned, blooded 
colts sporting in the spacious corrals ; the squaws, fasci- 
nated by the gaudy calicoes, bright ribbons, and glittering- 
strings of beads on the counters or shelves of the large 
store, to the half-naked, chubby little pappooses around 
the kitchen doors, waiting with expectant mouths for some 
delicious morsel of refuse to be thrown to them, — all 
assumed, in bearing and manner, a vested right of pro- 
prietorship in their agreeable environment. 

To this motley group, always under his feet, as it were, 
Maxwell was ever passively gracious, although they were 
battening in idleness on his prodigal bounty from year to 
year. 

His retinue of servants, necessarily large, was made up 
of a heterogeneous mixture of Indians, Mexicans, and half- 
breeds. The kitchens were presided over by dusky 
maidens under the tutelage of experienced old crones, 
and its precincts were sacred to them; but the dining- 
rooms were forbidden to women during the hours of meals, 
which were served by boys. 

Maxwell was rarely, as far as my observation extended, 
without a large amount of money in his possession. He 
had no safe, however, his only place of temporary deposit 
for the accumulated cash being the bottom drawer of the 
old bureau in the large room to which I have referred, 
which was the most antiquated concern of common pine 
imaginable. There were only two other drawers in this 



378 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

old-fashioned piece of furniture, and neither of them pos- 
sessed a lock. The third, or lower, the one that contained 
the money, did, but it was absolutely worthless, being one 
of the cheapest pattern and affording not the slightest 
security; besides, the drawers above it could be pulled 
out, exposing the treasure immediately beneath to the 
cupidity of any one. 

I have frequently seen as much as thirty thousand dollars 
— gold, silver, greenbacks, and government checks — at 
one time in that novel depository. Occasionally these 
large sums remained there for several days, yet there was 
never an}' extra precaution taken to prevent its abstrac- 
tion ; doors were always open and the room free of access 
to every one, as usual. 

I once suggested to Maxwell the propriety of purchas- 
ing a safe for the better security of his money, but he only 
smiled, while a strange, resolute look flashed from his dark 
eyes, as he said: "God help the man who attempted to 
rob me and I knew him ! " 

The sources of his wealth were his cattle, sheep, and 
the products of his area of cultivated acres, — barley, oats, 
and corn principally, — which he disposed of to the quar- 
termaster and commissary departments of the army, in the 
large military district of New Mexico. His wool-clip 
must have been enormous, too; hut I doubt whether he 
could have told the number of animals that furnished it 
or the aggregate of his vast herds. He had a thousand 
horses, ten thousand cattle, and forty thousand sheep at 
the time I knew him well, according to the best estimates 
of his Mexican relatives. 

He also possessed a large and perfectly appointed grist- 
mill, which was a great source of revenue, for wheat was 
one of the staple crops of his many farms. 

Maxwell was fond of travelling all over the Territory, 
his equipages comprising everything in the shape of a 



MAXWELL'S RANCH 379 

vehicle, through all their varieties, from the most plainly 
constructed huckhoard to the lumbering, but comfortable 
and expensive, Concord coach, mounted on thorough braces 
instead of springs, and drawn by four or six horses. He 
was perfectly reckless in his driving, dashing through 
streams, over irrigating ditches, stones, and stumps like 
a veritable Jehu, regardless of consequences, but, as is 
usually the fortune of such precipitate horsemen, rarely 
coming to grief. 

The headquarters of the TJte agency were established at 
Maxwell's Ranch in early days, and the government de- 
tailed a company of cavalry to camp there, more, however, 
to impress the plains tribes who roamed along the Old 
Trail east of the Raton Range, than for any effect on the 
Utes, whom Maxwell could always control, and who 
regarded him as a father. 

On the 4th of July, 1867, Maxwell, who owned an 
antiquated and rusty six-pound field howitzer, suggested 
to the captain of the troop stationed there the propriety 
of celebrating the day. So the old piece was dragged from 
its place under a clump of elms, where it had been hidden 
in the grass and weeds ever since the Mexican War proba- 
bly, and brought near the house. The captain and Max- 
well acted the role of gunners, the former at the muzzle, 
the latter at the breech ; the discharge was premature, 
blowing out the captain's eye and taking off his arm, 
while Maxwell escaped with a shattered thumb. As soon 
as the accident occurred, a sergeant was despatched to Fort 
Union on one of the fastest horses on the ranch, the faith- 
ful animal falling dead the moment he stopped in front 
of the surgeon's quarters, having made the journey of 
fifty-five miles in little more than four hours. 

The surgeon left the post immediately, arriving at 
Maxwell's late that night, but in time to save the officer's 
life, after which he dressed Maxwell's apparently incon- 



380 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

siderable wound. In a few days, however, the thumb 
grew angry-looking; it would not yield to the doctor's 
careful treatment, so he reluctantly decided that amputa- 
tion was necessary. After an operation was determined 
upon, I prevailed upon Maxwell to come to the fort and 
remain with me, inviting Kit Carson at the same time, 
that he might assist in catering to the amusement of my 
suffering guest. Maxwell and Carson arrived at my 
quarters late in the day, after a tedious ride in the big 
coach, and the surgeon, in order to allow a prolonged rest 
on account of Maxwell's feverish condition, postponed 
the operation until the following evening. 

The next night, as soon as it grew dark — we waited for 
coolness, as the days were excessively hot, — the neces- 
sary preliminaries were arranged, and when everything 
was ready the surgeon commenced. Maxwell declined 
the anaesthetic prepared for him, and sitting in a common 
office chair put out his hand, while Carson and myself 
stood on opposite sides, each holding an ordinary kerosene 
lamp. In a few seconds the operation was concluded, and 
after the silver-wire ligatures. were twisted in their places, 
I offered Maxwell, who had not as yet permitted a single 
sigh to escape his lips, half a tumblerful of whiskey; but 
before I had fairly put it to his mouth, he fell over, hav- 
ing fainted dead away, while great beads of perspiration 
stood on his forehead, indicative of the pain he had suf- 
fered, as the amputation of the thumb, the surgeon told 
us then, was as bad as that of a leg. 

He returned to his ranch as soon as the surgeon pro- 
nounced him well, and Carson to his home in Taos. I 
saw the latter but once more at Maxwell's ; but he was en 
route to visit me at Fort Harker, in Kansas, when he was 
taken ill at Fort Lyon, where he died. 

" A boy's will is the wind's will. 
And the thoughts of vouth are long, long thoughts." 



MAXWELL'S RANCH 381 

How true it now seems to me, as the recollections of my 
boyish days, when I read of the exploits of Kit Carson, 
crowd upon 1113- memory! I firmly believed him to be at 
least ten feet tall, carrying a rifle so heavy that, like 
Bruce's sword, it required two men to lift it. I imagined 
he drank out of nothing smaller than a river, and picked 
the carcass of a whole buffalo as easily as a lady does the 
wing of a quail. Ten years later I made the acquaint- 
ance of the foremost frontiersman, and found him a 
delicate, reticent, under-sized, wiry man, as perfectly the 
opposite of the type my childish brain had created as it 
is possible to conceive. 

At Fort Union our mail arrived every morning by 
coach over the Trail, generally pulling up at the sutler's 
store, whose proprietor was postmaster, about daylight. 
While Maxwell and Kit were my guests, I sauntered 
down after breakfast one morning to get my mail, and 
while waiting for the letters to be distributed, happened 
to glance at some papers lying on the counter, among 
which I saw a new periodical — the Day's Doings, I 
think it was — that had a full-page illustration of a scene 
in a forest. In the foreground stood a gigantic figure 
dressed in the traditional buckskin ; on one arm rested 
an immense rifle ; his other arm was around the waist of 
the conventional female of such sensational journals, 
while in front, lying prone upon the ground, were half 
a dozen Indians, evidently slain by the singular hero in 
defending the impossibly attired female. The legend 
related how all this had been effected by the famous Kit 
Carson. I purchased the paper, returned with it to my 
room, and after showing it to several officers who had 
called upon Maxwell, I handed it to Kit. He wiped his 
spectacles, studied the picture intently for a few seconds, 
turned round, and said : " Gentlemen, that thar- may be 
true, but I hain't got no recollection of it." 



382 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

I passed a delightful two weeks with Maxwell, late in 
the summer of 1867, at the time that the excitement over 
the discovery of gold on his ranch had just commenced, 
and adventurers were beginning to congregate in the hills 
and gulches from everywhere. The discovery of the pre- 
cious metal on his estate was the first cause of his finan- 
cial embarrassment. It was the ruin also of many other 
prominent men in New Mexico, who expended their entire 
fortune in the construction of an immense ditch, forty 
miles in length, — from the Little Canadian or Red River, 
— to supply the placer diggings in the Moreno valley 
with water, when the melted snow of Old Baldy range 
had exhausted itself in the late summer. The scheme 
was a stupendous failure ; its ruins may be seen to-day in 
the deserted valleys, a monument to man's engineering 
skill, but the wreck of his hopes. 

For some years previous to the discovery of gold in the 
mountains and gulches of Maxwell's Ranch, it was known 
that copper existed in the region; several shafts had been 
sunk and tunnels driven in various places, and gold had 
been found from time to time, but was kept a secret for 
many months. Its presence was at last revealed to Max- 
well by a party of his own miners, who were boring into 
the heart of Old Baldy for a copper lead that had cropped 
out and was then lost. 

Of course, to keep the knowledge of the discovery of 
gold from the world is an impossibility; such was the 
case in this instance, and soon commenced that squatter 
immigration out of which, after the ranch was sold and 
Maxwell died, grew that litigation which has resulted in 
favour of the company who purchased from or through the 
first owners after Maxwell's death. 

He was a representative man of the border of the same 
class as his compeers, — "wild-civilized men," to borrow 
an expressive term from John Burroughs, — of strong 



MAXWELL'S RANCH 383 

local attachments, and overflowing with the milk of 
human kindness. To such as he there was an uncon- 
querable infatuation in life on the remote plains and in 
the solitude of the mountains. There was never anything 
of the desperado in their character, while the adventurers 
who at times have made the far West infamous, since the 
advent of the railroad, were -bad men originally. 

Occasionally such men turn up everywhere, and become 
a terror to the community, but they are alwaj's wound up 
sooner or later: they die with their boots on; Western 
graveyards are full of them. 

Maxwell, under contract with the Interior Department, 
furnished live beeves to the Ute nation, the issue of which 
was made weekly from his own vast herds. The cattle, 
as wild as those from the Texas prairies, were driven by his 
herders into an immense enclosed field, and there turned 
loose to be slaughtered by the savages. 

Once when at the ranch I told Maxwell I should like to 
have a horse to witness the novel sight. He immediately 
ordered a Mexican groom to procure one ; but I did not see 
the peculiar smile that lighted up his face, as he whispered 
something to the man which I did not catch. Presently 
the groom returned leading a magnificent gray, which I 
mounted, Maxwell suggesting that I should ride down to 
the large field and wait there until the herd arrived. I en- 
tered the great corral, patting my horse on the neck now 
and then,. to make him familiar with my touch, and at- 
tempted to converse with some of the chiefs, who were 
dressed in their best, painted as if for the war-path, gaily 
bedecked with feathers and armed with rifles and gaud- 
ily appointed bows and arrows ; but I did not succeed 
very well in drawing them from their normal reticence. 
The squaws, a hundred of them, were sitting on the 
ground, their knives in hand ready for the labour which is 
the fate of their sex in all savage tribes, while their lords' 



384 THE OLD SANTA FB TRAIL 

portion of the impending business was to end with the 
more manly efforts of the chase. 

Suddenly a great cloud of dust rose on the trail from 
the mountains, and on came the maddened animals, fairly 
shaking the earth with their mighty tread. As soon as the 
gate was closed behind them, and uttering a characteristic 
yell that was blood-curdling in its ferocity, the Indians 
charged upon the now doubly frightened herd, and com- 
menced to discharge their rifles, regardless of the presence 
of any one but themselves. My horse became paralyzed 
for an instant and stood poised on his hind legs, like the 
steed represented in that old lithographic print of Napoleon 
crossing the Alps ; then taking the bit in his teeth, he 
rushed aimlessly into the midst of the flying herd, while 
the bullets from the guns of the excited savages .rained 
around my head. I had always boasted of my equestrian 
accomplishments, — I was never thrown but once in my 
life, and that was years afterward, — but in this instance 
it taxed all my powers to keep my seat. In less than 
twenty minutes the last beef had fallen ; and the warriors, 
inflated with the pride of their achievement, rode silently 
out of the field, leaving the squaws to cut up and carry 
away the meat to their lodges, more than three miles 
distant, which they soon accomplished, to the last quiver- 
ing morsel. 

As I rode leisurely back to the house, I saw Maxwell 
and Kit standing on the broad porch, their sides actually 
shaking with laughter at my discomfiture, they having 
been watching me from the very moment the herd entered 
the corral. It appeared that the horse Maxwell ordered 
the groom to bring me was a recent importation from St. 
Louis, had never before seen an Indian, and was as unused 
to the prairies and mountains as a street-car mule. Kit said 
that ray mount reminded him of one that his antagonist in 
a duel rode a great many years ago when he was young. 



MAXWELL'S RANCH 385 

If the animal had not been such "a fourth-of-July " brute, 
his opponent would in all probability have finished him, as 
he was a splendid shot; but Kit fortunately escaped, the 
bullet merely grazing him under the ear, leaving a scar 
which he then showed me. 

One night Kit Carson, Maxwell, and I were up in the 
Raton Mountains above the Old Trail, and having lingered 
too long, were caught above the clouds against our will, 
darkness having overtaken us before we were ready to 
descend into the valley. It was dangerous to undertake 
the trip over such a precipitous and rocky trail, so we were 
compelled to make the best of our situation. It was 
awfully cold, and as we had brought no blankets, we dared 
not go to sleep for fear our fire might go out, and we 
should freeze. We therefore determined to make a night 
of it by telling yarns, smoking our pipes, and walking 
around at times. After sitting awhile, Maxwell pointed 
toward the Spanish Peaks, whose snow-white tops cast a 
diffused light in the heavens above them, and remarked 
that in the deep canon which separates them, he had had 
one of the " closest calls " of his life, willingly complying 
when I asked him to tell us the story. 

"It was in 1847. I came down from Taos with a party 
to go to the Cimarron crossing of the Santa Fe Trail to 
pick up a large herd of horses for the United States Quar- 
termaster's Department. We succeeded in gathering about 
a hundred and started back with them, letting them graze 
slowly along, as we were in no hurry. When we arrived 
at the foot-hills north of Bent's Fort, we came suddenly 
upon the trail of a large war-band of Utes, none of whom 
we saw, but from subsequent developments the savages 
must have discovered us days before we reached the moun- 
tains. I knew we were not strong enough to cope with 
the whole Ute nation, and concluded the best thing for 
us to do under the ticklish circumstances was to make a 
2c 



386 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

detour, and put them off our trail. So we turned abruptly 
down the Arkansas, intending to try and get to Taos in 
that direction, more than one hundred and fifty miles 
around. It appeared afterward that the Indians had been 
following us all the way. When we found this out, some 
of the men believed they were another party, and not the 
same whose trail we came upon when we turned down' the 
river, but I always insisted they were. When we arrived 
within a few days' drive of Taos, we were ambushed in one 
of the narrow passes of the range, and had the bloodiest 
fight with the Utes on record. There were thirteen of us, 
all told, and two little children whom we were escorting to 
their friends at Taos, having received them at the Cimarron 
crossing. 

" While we were quietly taking our breakfast one morn- 
ing, and getting ready to pull out for the day's march, 
perfectly unsuspicious of the proximity of any Indians, 
they dashed in upon us, and in less than a minute stam- 
peded all our stock — loose animals as well as those we 
were riding. While part of the savages were employed 
in running off the animals, fifty of their most noted 
warriors, splendidly mounted and horribly painted, rushed 
into the camp, around the fire of which the men and the 
little children were peacefully sitting, and, discharging 
their guns as they rode up, killed one man and wounded 
another. 

" Terribly surprised as we were, it did not turn the 
heads of the old mountaineers, and I immediately told 
them to make a break for a clump of timber near by, and 
that we would fight them as long as one of us could stand 
up. There we fought and fought against fearful odds, 
until all were wounded except two. The little children 
were captured at the beginning of the trouble and carried 
off at once. After a while the savages got tired of the 
hard work, and, as is frequently the case, went away 



MAXWKLL'S RANCH 387 

of their own free will ; but they left us in a terrible 
plight. All were sore, stiff, and weak from their many 
wounds ; on foot, and without any food or ammunition to 
procure game with, having exhausted our supply in the 
awfully unequal battle ; besides, we were miles from home, 
with every prospect of starving to death. 

" We could not remain where we were, so as soon as 
darkness came on, we started out to walk to some settle- 
ment. We dared not show ourselves by daylight, and all 
through the long hours when the sun was up, we were 
obliged to hide in the brush and ravines until night over- 
took us again, and we could start on our painful march. 

" We had absolutely nothing to eat, and our wounds 
began to fester, so that we could hardly move at all. We 
should undoubtedly have perished, if, on the third day, a 
band of friendly Indians of another tribe had not gone to 
Taos and reported the fight to the commanding officer 
of the troops there. These Indians had heard of our 
trouble with the Utes, and knowing how strong they were, 
and our weakness, surmised our condition, and so hastened 
to convey the bad news. 

" A company of dragoons was immediately sent to our 
rescue, under the guidance of Dick Wooton, who was and 
has ever been a warm personal friend of mine. They came 
upon us about forty miles from Taos, and never were we 
more surprised ; we had become so starved and emaciated 
that we had abandoned all hope of escaping what seemed 
to be our inevitable fate. 

" When the troops found us, we had only a few rags, our 
clothes having been completely stripped from our bodies 
while struggling through the heavy underbrush on our 
trail, and we were so far exhausted that we could not stand 
on our feet. One more day, and we would have been 
laid out. 

" The little children were, fortunately, saved from the 



388 



THE' OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 



horror of that terrible march after the fight, as the Indians 
carried them to their winter camp, where, if not absolutely 
happy, they were under shelter and fed ; escaping the 
starvation which would certainly have been their fate if 
they had remained with us. They were eventually ran- 
somed for a cash payment by the government, and alto- 
gether had not been very harshly treated." 




/idxwe/b'/idnor/ioujc -/faxt/e/6 /finc/i 



CHAPTER XIX 

THE BENTS' SEVERAL FORTS FAMOUS TRADING-POSTS — REN- 
DEZVOUS OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN TRAPPERS CASTLE 

WILLIAM AND INCIDENTS CONNECTED WITH THE NOTED. PLACE 

BARTERING WITH THE INDIANS ANNUAL FEAST OF THE 

ARAPAHOES AND CHEYENNES OLD WOLF'S FIRST VISIT TO 

BENT'S FORT THE SURPRISE OF THE SAVAGES STORIES 

TOLD BY CELEBRATED FRONTIERSMEN AROUND THE CAMP- 
FIRE 



HE famous Bent brothers, 
William, George, Rob- 
ert, and Charles, were 
French-Canadian hunt- 
ers and trappers, and 
had been employed al- 
most from boyhood, in 
the early days of the 
border, by the American 
Fur Company in the 
mountains of the North- 
west. 

In 1826, almost imme- 
diately after the trans- 
ference of the fur trade 
to the valley of the Ar- 
kansas, when the commerce of the prairies was fairly 
initiated, the three "Bents and Ceran St. Vrain, also a 
French-Canadian and trapper, settled on the Upper 
Arkansas, where they erected a stockade. It was, of 
course, a rude affair, formed of long stakes or pickets 

389 




390 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

driven into the ground, after the Mexican style known 
as jacal. The sides were then ceiled and roofed, and it 
served its purpose of a trading-post. This primitive fort 
was situated on the left or north bank of the river, about 
halfway between Pueblo and Canon City, those beautiful 
mountain towns of to-day. 

Two years afterward, in 1828, the proprietors of the 
primitive stockade in the remote wilderness found it 
necessary to move closer to the great hunting-grounds 
lower down the valley. There, about twelve miles north- 
east of the now thriving town of Las Animas, the Bents 
commenced the construction of a relatively large and more 
imposing-looking structure than the first. The principal 
material used in the new building, or rather in its walls, 
was adobe, or sun-dried brick, so common even to-day in 
New Mexican architecture. Four years elapsed before 
the new fort was completed, during which period its 
owners, like other trappers, lived in tents or teepees 
fashioned of buffalo-skins, after the manner of the Indians. 

When at last the new station was completed, it was 
named Fort William, in honour of Golonel William Bent, 
who was the leader of the family and the most active 
trader among the four partners in the concern. The colo- 
nel frequently made long trips to the remote villages of 
the Arapahoes, Cheyennes, Kiowas, and Comanches, which 
were situated far to the south and east, on the Canadian 
River and its large tributaries. His miscellaneous assort- 
ment of merchandise he transported upon pack-mules to 
the Indian rendezvous, bringing back to the fort the valu- 
able furs he had exchanged for the goods so eagerly cov- 
eted by the savages. It was while on one of his trading 
expeditions to the Cheyenne nation that the colonel 
married a young squaw of that tribe, the daughter of the 
principal chief. 

William Bent for his day and time was an exceptionally 



BENT'S FORTS 391 

good man. His integrity, his truthfulness on all occa- 
sions, and his remarkable courage endeared him to the 
red and white man alike, and Fort William prospered 
wonderfully under his careful and just management. 
Both his brothers and St. Vrain had taken up their resi- 
dence in Taos, and upon the colonel devolved the entire 
charge of the busy establishment. It soon became the 
most popular rendezvous of the mountaineers and trappers, 
and in its immediate vicinity several tribes of Indians 
took up their temporary encampment. 

In 1852 Fort William was destroyed under the follow- 
ing strange circumstances : It appears that the United 
States desired to purchase it. Colonel Bent had decided 
upon a price, — sixteen thousand dollars, — but the repre- 
sentatives of the War Department offered only twelve 
thousand, which, of course, Bent refused. Negotiations 
were still pending, when the colonel, growing tired of the 
red-tape and circumlocution of the authorities, and while 
in a mad mood, removed all his valuables from the struct- 
ure, excepting some barrels of gunpowder, and then de- 
liberately set fire to the old landmark. When the flames 
reached the powder, there was an explosion which threw 
down portions of the walls, but did not wholly destroy 
them. The remains of the once noted buildings stand 
to-day, melancholy relics of a past epoch. 

In the same year the indefatigable and indomitable 
colonel determined upon erecting a much more important 
structure. He selected a site on the same side of the 
Arkansas, in the locality known as Big Timbers. Regard- 
ing this new venture, Colonel or Judge Moore of Las 
Animas, a son-in-law of William Bent, tells in a letter 
to the author of the history of Colorado the following 
facts : — 

" Leaving ten men in camp to get out stone for the new 
post, Colonel Bent took a part of his outfit and went to &■ 



392 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Kiowa village, about two hundred miles southwest, and 
remained there all winter, trading with the Kiowas and 
Comanches. In the spring of 1853 he returned to Big 
Timbers, when the construction of the new post was 
begun, and the work continued until completed in the 
summer of 1854; and it was used as a trading-post until 
the owner leased it to the government in the autumn of 
1859. Colonel Sedgwick had been sent out to fight the 
Kiowas that year, and in the fall a large quantity of com- 
missary stores had been sent him. Colonel Bent then 
moved up the river to a point just above the mouth of the 
Purgatoire, and built several rooms of cottonwood pickets, 
and there spent the winter. In the spring of 1860, Colonel 
Sedgwick began the construction of officers' buildings, 
company quarters, corrals, and stables, all of stone, and 
named the place Fort Wise, in honour of Governor Wise of 
Virginia. In 1861 the name was changed to Fort Lyon, 
in honour of General Lyon, who was killed at the battle 
of Wilson Creek, Missouri. In the spring of 1866, the 
Arkansas River overflowed its banks, swept up into the 
fort, and, undermining the walls, rendered it untenable 
for military purposes. The camp was moved to a point 
twenty miles below, and the new Fort Lyon established. 
The old post was repaired, and used as a stage station by 
Barlow, Sanderson, and Company, who ran a mail, 
express, and passenger line between Kansas City and 
Santa Fe\" 

The contiguous region to Fort William was in the early 
days a famous hunting-ground. It abounded in nearly 
every variety of animal indigenous to the mountains and 
plains, among which were the panther, — the so-called 
California lion of to-day, — the lynx, erroneously termed 
wild cat, white wolf, prairie wolf, silver-gray fox, prairie 
fox, antelope, buffalo, gray, grizzly and cinnamon bears, 
together with the common brown and black species, the 



BENT'S FORTS 393 

red deer and the black-tail, the latter the finest venison 
in the world. Of birds there were wild turkeys, quail, 
and grouse, besides an endless variety of the smaller-sized 
families, not regarded as belonging to the domain of 
game in a hunter's sense. It was a veritable paradise, 
too, for the trappers. Its numerous streams and creeks 
were famous for beaver, otter, and mink. 

Scarcely an acre of the surrounding area within the 
radius of hundreds of miles but has been the scene of 
many deadly encounters with the wily red man,' stories 
of which are still current among the few old mountaineers 
yet living. 

The fort was six hundred and fifty miles west of Fort 
Leavenworth, in latitude thirty-eight degrees and two 
minutes north, and longitude one hundred and three 
degrees and three minutes west, from Greenwich. The 
exterior walls of the fort, whose figure was that of a 
parallelogram, were fifteen feet high and four feet thick. 
It was a hundred and thirty-five feet wide and divided 
into various compartments. On the northwest and south- 
east corners were hexagonal bastions, in which were 
mounted a number of cannon. The walls of the building 
served as the walls of the«rooms, all of which faced inwards 
on a plaza, after the general style of Mexican architecture. 
The roofs of the rooms were made of poles, on which was 
a heavy layer of dirt, as in the houses of native Mexicans 
to-day. The fort possessed a billiard table, that visitors 
might amuse themselves, and in the office was a small 
telescope with a fair range of seven miles. 

The occupants of the far-away establishment, in its 
palmy days (for years it was the only building between 
Council Grove and the mountains), were traders, Indians, 
hunters, and French trappers, who were the employees 
of the great fur companies. Many of the latter had 
Indian wives. Later, after a stage line had been put in 



394 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

operation across the plains to Santa Fe", the fort was 
relegated to a mere station for the overland route, and 
with the march of civilization in its course westward, the 
trappers, hunters, and traders vanished from the once 
famous rendezvous. 

The walls were loopholed for musketry, and the entrance 
to the plaza, or corral, was guarded by large wooden gates. 
During the war with Mexico, the fort was headquarters 
for the commissary department, and many supplies were 
stored there, though the troops camped below on the beau- 
tiful river-bottom. In the centre of the corral, in the 
early days when the place was a rendezvous of the trap- 
pers, a large buffalo-robe press was erected. When the 
writer first saw the famous fort, now over a third of a 
century ago, one of the cannon, that burst in firing a salute 
to General Kearney, could be seen half buried in the dirt 
of the plaza. 

By barometrical measurements taken by the engineer 
officers of the army at different times, the height of Bent's 
Fort above the ocean level is approximately eight thousand 
nine hundred and fifty-eight feet, and the fall of the Arkan- 
sas River from the fort to the great bend of that stream, 
about three hundred and eleven .miles east, is seven feet 
and four-tenths per mile. 

It was in a relatively fair state of preservation thirty- 
three years ago, but now not a vestige of it remains, 
excepting perhaps a mound of dirt, the disintegration of 
the mud bricks of which the historical structure was built. 

The Indians whose villages were located a few miles 
below the fort, or at least the chief men of the various 
tribes, passed much of their time within the shelter of the 
famous structure. They were bountifully fed, and every- 
thing they needed furnished them. This was purely from 
policy, however; for if their wishes were not gratified, 
their hunters would not bring' in their furs to trade. 



BENT'S FORTS 395 

The principal chiefs never failed to be present when a 
meal was announced as ready, and however scarce pro- 
visions might be, the Indians must be fed. 

The first farm in the fertile and now valuable lands of the 
valley of the Rio de las Animas 1 was opened by the Bents. 
The area selected for cultivation was in the beautiful bot- 
tom between the fort and the ford, a strip about a mile in 
length, and from one hundred and fifty to six hundred feet 
in width. Nothing could be grown without irrigation, 
and to that end an acequia, as the Mexicans call the 
ditch through which the water flows, was constructed, 
and a crop put in. Before the enterjurising projectors 
of the scheme could reap a harvest, the hostile savages 
dashed iu and destroyed everything. 

Uncle John Smith was one of the principal traders back 
in the '30's, and he was very successful, perhaps because 
he was undoubtedly the most perfect master of the Chey- 
enne language at that time in the whole mountain 
region. 

Among those who frequently came to the fort were 
Kit Carson, L. B. Maxwell, Uncle Dick Wooton, Baptiste 
Brown, Jim Bridger, Old Bill Williams, James Beck- 
wourth, Shawnee Spiebuck, Shawnee Jake, — the latter 
two, noted Indian trappers, — besides a host of others. 

The majority of the old trappers, to a stranger, until 
he knew their peculiar characteristics, were seemingly 
of an unsociable disposition. It was an erroneous idea, 
however; for they were the most genial companions imagi- 
nable, generous to a fault, and to fall into one of their 
camps was indeed a lucky thing for the lost traveller. 
Eveiything the host had was at his guest's disposal, and 
though coffee and sugar were the dearest of his luxuries, 
often purchased with a whole season's trapping, the black 

1 " River of Souls." The stream is also called Le Purgatoire, corrupted 
by the Americans into Picketwire. 



396 THE OLD SANTA EE TRAIL 

fluid was offered with genuine free-heartedness, and the 
last plug of tobacco placed at the disposition of his 
chance visitor, as though it could be picked up on the 
ground anywhere. 

Goods brought by the traders to the rendezvous for sale 
to the trappers and hunters, although of the most inferior 
quality, were sold at enormously high prices. 

Coffee, by the pint-cup, which was the usual measure for 
everything, cost from a dollar and twenty cents to three 
dollars ; tobacco a dollar and a half a plug ; alcohol from 
two dollars to five dollars a pint; gunpowder one dollar 
and sixty cents a pint-cup, and all other articles at pro- 
portionably exorbitant rates. 

The annual gatherings of the trappers at the rendezvous 
were often the scene of bloody duels ; for over their cups 
and cards no men were more quarrelsome than the old- 
time mountaineers. Rifles at twenty paces settled all 
difficulties, and, as may be imagined, the fall of one or 
the other of the combatants was certain, or, as sometimes 
happened, both fell at the word " Fire ! " 

The trapper's visits to the Mexican settlements, or to 
the lodges of a tribe of Indians, for the purpose of trading, 
often resulted in his returning to his quiet camp with a 
woman to grace his solitary home, the loving and lonely 
couple as devoted to each other in the midst of blood- 
thirsty enemies, howling wolves, and panthers, as if they 
were in some quiet country village. 

The easy manners of the harum-scarum, reckless trap- 
pers at the rendezvous, and the simple, unsuspecting 
hearts of those nymphs of the mountains, the squaws, 
caused their husbands to be very jealous of the attentions 
bestowed upon them by strangers. Often serious difficul- 
ties arose, in the course of which the poor wife received 
a severe whipping with the knot of a lariat, or no very 
light lodge-poling at the hands of her imperious sover- 



BENT'S FOKTS 397 

eign. Sometimes the affair ended in a more tragical way 
than a mere beating, not infrequently the gallant paying 
the penalty of his interference with his life. 

Garrard, a traveller on the great plains and in the 
Rocky Mountains half a century ago, from whose excel- 
lent diary I have frequently quoted, passed many days 
and nights at Bent's Fort fifty years ago, and his quaint 
description of life there in that remote period of the 
extreme frontier is very amusing. Its truth has often 
been confirmed by Uncle John Smith, who was my guide 
and interpreter in the Indian expedition of 1868-69, only 
two decades after Garrard's experience. 

Rosalie, a half-breed French and Indian squaw, wife of 
the carpenter, and Charlotte, the culinary divinity, were, 
as a Missouri teamster remarked, " the only female women 
here." They were nightly led to the floor to trip the light 
fantastic toe, and swung rudely or gently in the mazes of 
the contra-dance, but such a medley of steps is seldom seen 
out of the mountains, — the halting, irregular march of 
the war-dance, the slipping gallopade, the boisterous pitch- 
ing of the Missouri backwoodsman, and the more nice gyra- 
tions of the Frenchman ; for all, irrespective of rank, age, 
or colour, went pell-mell into the excitement, in a manner 
that would have rendered a leveller of aristocracies and 
select companies frantic with delight. And the airs 
assumed by the fair ones, more particularly Charlotte, 
who took pattern from life in the States, were amusing. 
She acted her part to perfection; she was- the centre of 
attraction, the belle of the evening. She treated the 
suitors for the pleasure of the next set with becoming ease 
and suavity of manner ; she knew her worth, and managed 
accordingly. When the favoured gallant stood by her side 
waiting for the rudely scraped tune from a screeching 
fiddle, satisfaction, joy, and triumph over his rivals were 
pictured on his radiant face. 



398 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

James Hobbs, of whom I have already spoken, onee 
gave me a graphic description of the annual feast of the 
Comanches, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes, which always 
took place at Big Timbers, near Fort William. 

Hobbs was married to the daughter of Old Wolf, the 
chief of the Comanches, a really beautiful Indian girl, 
with whom he lived faithfully many years. In the early 
summer of 1835, he went with his father-in-law and the 
rest of the tribe to the great feast of that season. He 
stated that on that occasion there were forty thousand 
Indians assembled, and consequently large hunting par- 
ties were sent out daily to procure food for such a vast 
host. The entertainment was kept up for fifteen days, 
enlivened by horse races, foot races, and playing ball. In 
these races the tribes would bet their horses on the result, 
the Comanches generally winning, for they are the best 
riders in the world. By the time the feast was ended, the 
Arapahoes and Cheyennes usually found themselves afoot, 
but Old Wolf, who was a generous fellow, always gave 
them back enough animals to get home with. 

The game of ball was played with crooked sticks, and 
is very much like the American boys' "shinny." The 
participants are dressed in a simple breech-cloth and 
moccasins. It is played with great enthusiasm and 
affords much amusement. ^ 

At these annual feasts a council of the great chiefs of 
the three tribes is always held, and at the one during 
the season referred to, Hobbs said the Cheyenne chiefs 
wanted Old Wolf to visit Bent's Fort, where he had 
never been. Upon the arrival of the delegation there, 
it was heartily welcomed b} 7 all the famous men who 
happened to be at the place, among whom were Kit 
Carson, Old John Smith, and several noted trappers. 
Whiskey occupied a prominent place in the rejoicing, 
and "I found it hard work," said Hobbs, "to stand the 



BENT'S FORTS 399 

many toasts drank to my good health." The whole party, 
including Old Wolf and his companion the Cheyenne 
chief, got very much elated, and every person in the 
fort smelt whiskey, if they did not get their feet tangled 
with it. 

About midnight a messenger came inside, reporting 
that a thousand Comanche warriors were gathering around 
the fort. They demanded their leaders, fearing treachery, 
and desired to know why their chief had not returned. 
Hobbs went out and explained that he was safe ; but they 
insisted on seeing him, so he and Hobbs showed them- 
selves to the assembled Indians, and Old Wolf made a 
speech, telling them that he and the Cheyenne chief were 
among good friends to the Indians, and presents would 
be given to them the next morning. The warriors were 
pacified with these assurances, though they did not leave 
the vicinity of the fort. 

It was at this time that Hobbs was ransomed by Colonel 
Bent, who gave Old Wolf, for him, six yards of red 
flannel, a pound of tobacco, and an ounce of beads. 

The chief was taken in charge by a lieutenant, who 
showed him all over the fort, letting him see the rifle port- 
holes, and explaining how the place could stand a siege 
against a thousand Indians. Finally, he was taken out on 
the parapet, v where there was a six-pounder at each angle. 
The old savage inquired how they could shoot such a 
thing, and at Hobbs' request, a blank cartridge was put 
in the piece and fired. Old Wolf sprang back in amaze- 
ment, and the Indians on the outside, under the walls, 
knowing nothing of what was going on, ran away as fast 
as their legs could carry them, convinced that their chief 
must be dead now and their own safety dependent upon 
flight. Old Wolf and Hobbs sprang upon the wall and 
signalled and shouted to them, and they returned, asking 
in great astonishment what kind of a monstrous gun it was. 



400 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

About noon trading commenced. The Indians wished 
to come into the fort, but Bent would not let any enter 
but the chiefs. At the back door the colonel displayed 
his goods, and the Indians brought forward their ponies, 
buffalo-robes, deer and other skins, which they traded for 
tobacco, beads, calico, flannel, knives, spoons, whistles, 
jews '-harps, etc. 

Whiskey was sold to them the first day, but as it caused 
several fights among them before night, Bent stopped its 
sale, at Hobbs' suggestion and with Old Wolf's consent. 
Indians, when they get drunk, do not waste time by 
fighting with fists, like white men, but use knives and 
tomahawks ; so that a general scrimmage is a serious 
affair. Two or three deaths resulted the first day, and 
there would have been many more if the sale of whiskey 
had not been stopped. 

The trading continued for eight days, and Colonel 
Bent reaped a rich harvest of what he could turn into 
gold -at St. Louis. Old Wolf slept in the fort each 
night except one during that time, and every time his 
warriors aroused him about twelve o'clock and com- 
pelled him to show himself on the walls to satisfy them 
of his safety. 

About a hundred trappers were in the employ of Bent 
and his partners. Sometimes one-half of the company 
were off on a hunt, leaving but a small force at the fort 
for its protection, but with the small battery there its 
defence was considered sufficient. 

One day a trapping party, consisting of Kit Carson, 
"Peg-leg" Smith, and James Hobbs, together with some 
Shawnee Indians, all under the lead of Carson, started 
out from Bent's Fort for the Picketwire to trap beaver. 

Grizzlies were very abundant in that region then, and 
one of the party, named Mclntire, having killed an elk 
the evening before, said to Hobbs that they might stand 



BENT'S FORTS 401 

a good chance to find a grizzly by the elk he had shot but 
had not brought in. Hobbs said that he was willing to 
go with him, but as Mclntire was a very green man in the 
mountains, Hobbs had some doubts of depending on him 
in case of an attack by a grizzly bear. 

The two men left for the ravine in which Mclntire had 
killed the elk very early in the morning, taking with them 
tomahawks, hunting-knives, rifles, and a good dog. On 
arriving at the ravine, Hobbs told Mclntire to cross over 
to the other side and climb the hill, but on no account to 
go down into the ravine, as a grizzly is more dangerous 
when he has a man on the downhill side. Hobbs then 
went to where he thought the elk might be if he had died 
by the bank of the stream ; but as soon as he came near the 
water, he saw that a large grizzly had got there before 
him, having scented the animal, and was already making 
his breakfast. 

The bear was in thick, scrubby oak brush, and Hobbs, 
making his dog lie down, crawled behind a rock to get a 
favourable shot at the beast. He drew a bead on him and 
fired, but the bear only snarled at the wound made by the 
ball and started tearing through the brush, biting furi- 
ously at it as he went. Hobbs reloaded his rifle carefully, 
and as quickly as he could, in order to get a second shot ; 
but, to his amazement, he saw the bear rushing down 
the ravine chasing Mclntire, who was only about ten feet 
in advance of the enraged beast, running for his life, and 
making as much noise as a mad bull. He was terribly 
scared, and Hobbs hastened to his rescue, first sending 
his dog ahead. 

Just as the dog reached the bear, Mclntire darted behind 
a tree and flung his hat in the bear's face, at the same 
time sticking his rifle toward him. The old grizzly seized 
the muzzle of the gun in his teeth, and, as it was loaded 
and cocked, it either went off accidentally or otherwise 

2 D 



402 



THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 



and blew the bear's head open, just as the dog had fastened 
on his hindquarters. Hobbs ran to the assistance of his 
comrade with all haste, but he was out of danger and had 
sat down a few rods away, with his face as white as a 
sheet, a badly frightened man. 

After that fearful scare, Mclntire would cook or do any- 
thing, but said he never intended to make a business of 
bear-hunting; he had only wished for one adventure, and 
this one had satisfied him. 




Dentj'forfi- 



CHAPTER XX 

PAWNEE ROCK A DEBATABLE REGION OF THE INDIAN TRIBES 

THE MOST DANGEROUS POINT ON THE CENTRAL PLAINS IN 

THE DAYS OF THE EARLY SANTA FE TRADE RECEIVED ITS 

NAME IN A BAPTISM OF BLOOD BATTLE-GROUND OF THE 

PAWNEES AND CHEYENNES OLD GRAVES ON THE SUMMIT OF 

THE ROCK KIT CARSON'S FIRST FIGHT AT THE ROCK WITH 

THE PAWNEES KILLS HIS MULE BY MISTAKE COLONEL 

ST. VRAIN'S BRILLIANT CHARGE DEFEAT OF THE SAVAGES 

THE TRAPPERS' TERRIBLE BATTLE WITH THE PAWNEES 

THE MASSACRE AT COW CREEK 



fbhweeftbcA- 



HAT portion of the great 
central plains which radi- 
ates from Pawnee Rock, 
including the Big Bend 
of the Arkansas, thirteen 
miles distant, where that 
river makes a sudden 
sweep to the southeast, 
and the beautiful valley 
of the Walnut, in all its 
vast area of more than a 
million square acres, was 
from time immemorial a 
sort of debatable land, 
occupied by none of the 
Indian tribes, but claimed 
by all to hunt in ; for it 
was a famous pasturage of the buffalo. 

None of the various bands had the temerity to attempt 

403 




404 THE OLD SANTA EE TRAIL 

its permanent occupancy ; for whenever hostile tribes met 
there, which was of frequent occurrence, in their annual 
hunt for their winter's supply of meat, a bloody battle 
was certain to ensue. The region referred to has been 
the scene of more sanguinary conflicts between the differ- 
ent Indians of the plains, perhaps, than any other portion 
of the continent. Particularly was it the arena of war 
to the death, when the Pawnees met their hereditary 
enemies, the Cheyennes. 

Pawnee Rock was a spot well calculated by nature to 
form, as it has done, an important rendezvous and ambus- 
cade for the prowling savages of the prairies, and often 
afforded them, especially the once powerful and murder- 
ous Pawnees whose name it perpetuates, a pleasant little 
retreat or eyrie from which to watch the passing Santa Fe 
traders, and dash down upon them like hawks, to carry 
off their plunder and their scalps. 

Through this once dangerous region, close to the silent 
Arkansas, and running under the very shadow of the 
rock, the Old Trail wound its course. Now, at this point, 
it is the actual road-bed of the Atchison, Topeka, and 
Santa Fe Railroad, so strangely are the past and present 
transcontinental highways connected here. 

Who, among bearded and grizzled old fellows like my- 
self, has forgotten that most sensational of all the mis- 
erably executed illustrations in the geographies of fifty 
years ago, " The Santa Fe Traders attacked by Indians " ? 
The picture located the scene of the fight at Pawnee Rock, 
which formed a sort of nondescript shadow in the back- 
ground of a crudely drawn representation of the dangers 
of the Trail. 

If this once giant sentinel 1 of the plains might speak, 

1 Pawnee Rock is no longer conspicuous. Its material has been torn 
away by both the railroad and the settlers in the vicinity, to build founda- 
tions for water-tanks, in the one instance, and for the construction of their 



PAWNEE ROCK 405 

what a story it could tell of the events that have happened 
on the beautiful prairie stretching out for miles at its feet! 

In the early fall, when the rock was wrapped in the 
soft amber haze which is a distinguishing characteristic of 
the incomparable Indian summer on the plains; or in the 
spring, when the mirage weaves its mysterious shapes, 
it loomed up in the landscape as if it were a huge moun- 
tain, and to the inexperienced eye appeared as if it were 
the abrupt ending of a well-defined range. But when the 
frost came, and the mists were dispelled ; when the thin 
fringe of timber on the Walnut, a few miles distant, had 
doffed its emerald mantle, and the grass had grown yellow 
and rusty, then in the golden sunlight of winter, the rock 
sank down to its normal proportions, and cut the clear 
blue of the sky with sharply marked lines. 

In the days when the Santa Fe trade was at its height, 
the Pawnees were the most formidable tribe on the eastern 
central plains, and the freighters and trappers rarely es- 
caped a skirmish with them either at the crossing of the 
Walnut, Pawnee Rock, the Fork of the Pawnee, or at 
Little and Big Coon creeks. To-day what is left of the his- 
toric hill looks down only upon peaceful homes and fruitful 
fields, whereas for hundreds of years it witnessed nothing 
but battle and death, and almost every yard of brown sod 
at its base covered a skeleton. In place of the horrid 
yell of the infuriated savage, as he wrenched off the reek- 
ing scalp of his victim, the whistle of the locomotive 
and the pleasant whirr of the reaping-machine is heard; 
where the death-cry of the painted warrior rang mournfully 
over the silent prairie, the waving grain is singing in 
beautiful rhythm as it bows to the summer breeze. 

Pawnee Rock received its name in a baptism of blood, 

houses, barns, and sheds, in the other. Nothing remains of the once 
famous landmark ; its site is occupied as a cattle corral by the owner of 
the claim in which it is included. 



406 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

but there are many versions as to the time and sponsors. 
It was there that Kit Carson killed his first Indian, and 
from that fight, as he told me himself, the broken mass of 
red sandstone was given its distinctive title. 

It was late in the spring of 1826 ; Kit was then a mere 
boy, only seventeen years old, and as green as any boy of 
his age who had never been forty miles from the place 
where he was born. Colonel Ceran St. Vrain, then a 
prominent agent of one of the great fur companies, was 
fitting out an expedition destined for the far-off Rocky 
Mountains, the members of which, all trappers, were to 
obtain the skins of the buffalo, beaver, otter, mink, and 
other valuable fur-bearing animals that then roamed in 
immense numbers on the vast plains or in the hills, and 
were also to trade with the various tribes of Indians on the 
borders of Mexico. 

Carson joined this expedition, which was composed of 
twenty-six mule wagons, some loose stock, and forty-two 
men. The boy was hired to help drive the extra animals, 
hunt game, stand guard, and to make himself generally 
useful, which, of course, included fighting Indians if any 
were met with on the long route. 

The expedition left Fort Osage one bright morning in 
May in excellent spirits, and in a few hours turned ab- 
ruptly to the west on the broad Trail to the mountains. 
The great plains in those early days were solitary and 
desolate beyond the power of description ; the Arkansas 
River sluggishly followed the tortuous windings of its 
treeless banks with a placidness that was awful in its very 
silence ; and whoso traced the wanderings of that stream 
with no companion but his own thoughts, realized in all 
its intensity the depth of solitude from which Robinson 
Crusoe suffered on his lonely island. Illimitable as the 
ocean, the weary waste stretched away until lost in the 
purple of the horizon, and the mirage created weird pictures 



PAWNEE ROCK 407 

in the landscape, distorted distances and objects which 
continually annoyed and deceived. Despite its loneliness, 
however, there was then, and ever has been for many men, 
an infatuation for those majestic prairies that once experi- 
enced is never lost, and it came to the boyish heart of Kit, 
who left them but with life, and full of years. 

There was not much variation in the eternal sameness 
of thing's during- the first two weeks, as the little train 
moved day after day through the wilderness of grass, its 
ever-rattling wheels only intensifying the surrounding 
monotony. Occasionally, however, a herd of buffalo was 
discovered in the distance, their brown, shaggy sides con- 
trasting with the never-ending sea of verdure around 
them. Then young Kit, and two or three others of the 
party who were detailed to supply the teamsters and trap- 
pers with meat, would ride out after them on the best of 
the extra horses which were always kept saddled and tied 
together behind the last wagon for services of this kind. 
Kit, who was already an excellent horseman and a splen- 
did shot with the rifle, would soon overtake them, and 
topple one after another of their huge fat carcasses over 
on the prairie until half a dozen or more were lying dead. 
The tender humps, tongues, and other choice portions 
were then cut out and put in a wagon which had by 
that time reached them from the train, and the expedition 
rolled on. 

So they marched for about three weeks, when they 
arrived at the crossing of the Walnut, where they saw 
the first signs of Indians. They had halted for that day ; 
the mules were unharnessed, the camp-fires lighted, and the 
men just about to indulge in their refreshing coffee, when 
suddenly half a dozen Pawnees, mounted on their ponies, 
hideously painted and uttering the most demoniacal yells, 
rushed out of the tall grass on the river-bottom, where 
they had been ambushed, and swinging their buffalo- 



408 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

robes, attempted to stampede the herd picketed near the 
camp. The whole party were on their feet in an instant 
with rifles in hand, and all the savages got for their trouble 
were a few well-deserved shots as they hurriedly scampered 
back to the river and over into the sand hills on the other 
side, soon to be out of sight. 

The expedition travelled sixteen miles next day, and 
camped at Pawnee Rock, where, after the experience of 
the evening before, every precaution was taken to pre- 
vent a surprise bj r the savages. The wagons were formed 
into a corral, so that the animals could be secured in the 
event of a prolonged fight ; the guards were drilled 
by the colonel, and every man slept with his rifle for a 
bed-fellow, for the old trappers knew that the Indians 
would never remain satisfied with their defeat on the 
Walnut, but would seize the first favourable opportunity to 
renew their attack. 

At dark the sentinels were placed in position, and to 
young Kit fell the important post immediately in front of 
the south face of the Rock, nearly two hundred yards from 
the corral; the others being at prominent points on top, and 
on the open prairie on either side. All who were not on 
duty had long since been snoring heavily, rolled up in their 
blankets and buffalo-robes, when at about half-past- eleven, 
one of the guard gave the alarm, "Indians ! " and ran the 
mules that were nearest him into the corral. In a moment 
the whole company turned out at the report of a rifle 
ringing on the clear night air, coming from the direction 
of the rock. The men had gathered at the opening to the 
corral, waiting for developments, when Kit came running 
in, and as soon as he was near enough, the colonel asked 
him whether he had seen any Indians. "Yes," Kit 
replied, " I killed one of the red devils ; I saw him fall ! " 

The alarm proved to be false ; there was no further dis- 
turbance that night, so the party returned to their beds, 



PAWNEE ROCK 409 

and the sentinels to their several posts, Kit of course to his 
place in front of the Rock. 

Early the next morning, before breakfast even, all were 
so anxious to see Kit's dead Indian, that they went out 
en masse to where he was still stationed, and instead 
of finding a painted Pawnee, as was expected, they found 
the boy's riding mule dead, shot right through the 
head. 

Kit felt terribly mortified over his ridiculous blunder, and 
it was a long time before he heard the last of his midnight 
adventure and his raid on his own mule. But he always 
liked to tell the " balance of the story," as he termed it, 
and this is his version : " I had not slept any the night 
before, for I stayed awake watching to get a shot at the 
Pawnees that tried to stampede our animals, expecting 
they would return ; and I hadn't caught a wink all day, 
as I was out buffalo hunting, so I was awfully tired and 
sleepy when we arrived at Pawnee Rock that evening, 
and when I was posted at my place at night, I must have 
gone to sleep leaning against the rocks ; at any rate, I was 
wide enough awake when the cry of Indians was given by 
one of the guard. I had picketed my mule about twenty 
steps from where I stood, and I presume he had been lying 
down ; all I remember is that the first thing I saw after 
the alarm was something rising up out of the grass, which 
I thought was an Indian. I pulled the trigger ; it was a 
centre shot, and I don't believe the mule ever kicked after 
he was hit ! " 

The next morning about daylight, a band of Pawnees 
attacked the train in earnest, and kept the little command 
busy all that day, the next night, and until the following 
midnight, nearly three whole days, the mules all the time 
being shut in the corral without food or water. At mid- 
night of the second day the colonel ordered the men to 
hitch up and attempt to drive on to the crossing of Pawnee 



410 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Fork, thirteen miles distant. 1 They succeeded in getting 
there, fighting their way without the loss of any of their 
men or animals. The Trail crossed the creek in the shape 
of a horseshoe, or rather, in consequence of the double 
bend of the stream as it empties into the Arkansas, the 
road crossed it twice. In making this passage, dangerous 
on account of its crookedness, Kit said many of the 
wagons were badly mashed up ; for the mules were so 
thirsty that their drivers could not control them. The 
train was hardly strung out on the opposite bank when 
the Indians poured in a volley of bullets and a shower of 
arrows from both sides of the Trail ; but before they could 
load and fire again, a terrific charge was on them, led by 
Colonel St. Vrain and Carson. It required only a few 
moments more to clean out the persistent savages, and 
the train went on. During the whole fight the little party 
lost four men killed and seven wounded, and eleven mules 
killed (not counting Kit's), and twenty badly wounded. 

A great many years ago, very early in the days of the 
trade with New Mexico, seven Americans were surprised 
by a large band of Pawnees in the vicinity of the Rock 
and were compelled to retreat to it for safety. There, 
without water, and with but a small quantity of pro- 
visions, they were besieged by their blood-thirsty foes for 
two days, when a party of traders coming on the Trail 
relieved them from their perilous situation and the pres- 
ence of their enemy. There were several graves on its 
summit when I first saw Pawnee Rock; but whether they 
contained the bones of savages or those of white men, I 
do not know. 

1 The crossing of the Old Santa Fe Trail at Pawnee Fork is now within 
the corporate limits of the pretty little town of Lamed, the county-seat 
of Pawnee County. The tourist from his car-window "may look right down 
upon one of the worst places for Indians that there was in those days of 
the commerce of the prairies, as the road crosses the stream at the exact 
spot where the Trail crossed it. 



PAWNEE ROCK 411 

Carson related to me another terrible fight that took 
place at the rock, when he first became a trapper. He 
was not a participant, but knew the parties well. About 
twenty-nine years ago, Kit, Jack Henderson, who was 
agent for the Ute Indians, Lucien B. Maxwell, Gen- 
eral Carleton and myself were camped halfway up the 
rugged sides of Old Baldy, in the Raton Range. The 
night was intensely cold, although in midsummer, and we 
were huddled around a little fire of pine knots, more than 
seven thousand feet above the level of the sea, close to the 
snow limit. 

Kit, or " the General," as every one called him, was in a 
good humour for talking, and we naturally took advantage 
of this to draw him out; for usually he was the most reti- 
cent of men in relating his own exploits. A casual remark 
made by Maxwell opened Carson's mouth, and he said he 
remembered one of the " worst difficults " a man ever 
got into. 1 So he made a fresh corn-shuck cigarette, and 
related the following ; but the names of the old trappers 
who were the principals in the fight I have unfortunately 
forgotten. 

Two men had been trapping in the Powder River coun- 
try during one winter with unusually good luck, and 
they got an early start with their furs, which they were 
going to take to Weston, on the Missouri, one of the 
principal trading points in those days. They walked the 
whole distance, driving their pack-mules before them, and 
experienced no trouble until they struck the Arkansas 
valley at Pawnee Rock. There they were intercepted 
by a war-party of about sixty Pawnees. Both of the 
trappers were notoriously brave and both dead shots. 
Before they arrived at the rock, to which they were 
finally driven, they killed two of the Indians, and had 

1 This was a favourite expression of his whenever he referred to any 
trouble witli the Indians. 



412 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

not themselves received a scratch. They had plenty of 
powder, a pouch full of balls each, and two good rifles. 
They also had a couple of jack-rabbits for food in case of 
a siege, and the perpendicular walls of the front of the 
rock made them a natural fortification, an almost impreg- 
nable one against Indians. 

They succeeded in securely picketing their animals at 
the side of the rock, where they could protect them by 
their unerring rifles from being stampeded. After the 
Pawnees had " treed " the two trappers on the rock, they 
picked up their dead, and packed them off to their camp 
at the mouth of a little ravine a short distance away. 
In a few moments back they all came, mounted on fast 
ponies, with their war-paint and other fixings on, ready 
to renew the fight. They commenced to circle around the 
place, coming closer, Indian fashion, every time, until the) 7 
got within easy rifle-range, when they slung themselves 
on the opposite sides of their horses, and in that position 
opened fire. Their arrows fell like a hailstorm, but as 
good luck would have it, none of them struck, and the balls 
from their rifles were wild, as the Indians in those days were 
not very good shots ; the rifle was a new weapon to them. 
The trappers at first were afraid the savages would surely 
try to kill the mules, but soon reflected that the Indians 
believed they had the " dead-wood " on them, and the 
mules would come handy after they had been scalped ; so 
they felt satisfied their animals were safe for a while any- 
how. The men were taking in all the chances, however; 
both kept their eyes skinned, and whenever one of them 
saw a stray leg or head, he drew a bead on it and when he 
pulled the trigger, its owner tumbled over with a yell of 
rage from his companions. 

Whenever the savages attempted to carry off their dead, 1 

1 Indians will risk the lives of a dozen of their best warriors to prevent 
the body of any one of their number from falling into the white man's 



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PAWNEE ROCK 413 

the two trappers took advantage of the opportunity, and 
poured in their shots every time with telling effect. 

By this time night had fallen, and the Indians did not 
seem anxious to renew the fight after dark; but they kept 
their mounted patrols on every side of the rock, at a 
respectable distance from such dead shots, watching to 
prevent the escape of the besieged. As they were hungry, 
one of the men went down under cover of the darkness to 
get a few buffalo-chips with which to cook their rabbit, 
and to change the animals to where they could get fresh 
grass. He returned safely to the summit of the rock, 
where a little fire was made and their supper prepared. 
They had to go without water all the time, and so did 
the mules; the men did not mind the want of it them- 
selves, but they could not help pitying their poor animals 
that had had none since they left camp early that morn- 
ing. It was no use to worry, though; the nearest water 
was at the river, and it would have been certain death to 
have attempted to go there unless the savages cleared 
out, and from all appearances they had no idea of doing 
that. 

What gave the trappers more cause for alarm than any- 
thing else, was the fear that the Indians would fire the 
prairie in the morning, and endeavour to smoke them out 
or burn them up. The grass was in just the condition to 
make a lively blaze, and they might escape the flames, and 
then they might not. It can well be imagined how eagerly 
they watched for the dawn of another day, perhaps the 
last for them. 

The first gray streaks of light had hardly peeped above 
the horizon, when, with an infernal yell, the Indians broke 
for the rock, and the trappers were certain that some new 

possession. The reason for this is the belief, which prevails among all 
tribes, that if a warrior loses his scalp he forfeits his hope of ever reaching 
the happy hunting-ground. 



414 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

project had entered their heads. The wind was springing 
up pretty freshly, and nature seemed to conspire with the 
red devils, if they really meant to burn the trappers out ; 
and from the movements of the savages, that was what 
they expected. The Indians kept at a respectful distance 
from the range of the trappers' rifles, who chafed because 
they could not stop some of the infernal yelling with a 
few well-directed bullets, but they had to choke their rage, 
and watch events closely. During a temporary lull in 
hostilities, one of the trappers took occasion to crawl down 
to where the mules were, and shift them to the west side of 
the rock, where the Avail was the highest ; so that the flame 
and smoke might possibly pass by them without so much 
danger as where they were picketed before. He had just 
succeeded in doing this, and, tearing up the long grass 
for several yards around the animals, was in the act of 
going back, when his partner yelled out to him : " Look 

out! D n 'em, they've fired the prairie!" He was 

back on the top of the rock in another moment, and took 
in at a glance what was coming'. 

The spectacle for a short interval was indescribably 
grand ; the sun was shining with all the power of its rays 
on the huge clouds of smoke as they rolled down from the 
north, tinting them a glorious crimson. The two trappers 
had barely time to get under the shelter of a large pro- 
jecting point of the rocky wall, when the wind and smoke 
swept down to the ground, and instantly they were en- 
veloped in the darkness of midnight. They could not 
discern a single object ; neither Indians, horses, the prairie, 
nor the sun ; and what a terrible wind ! 

The trappers stood breathless, clinging to the projections 
of rock, and did riot realize the fire was so near them until 
they were struck in the face by pieces of burning buffalo- 
chips that were carried toward them with the rapidity of 
the awful wind. They were now badly scared, for it 



PAWNEE ROCK 415 

seemed as if they were to be suffocated. They were 
saved, however, almost miraculously ; the sheet of flame 
passed them twenty yards away, as the wind fortunately 
shifted at the moment the fire reached the foot of the rock. 
The darkness was so intense that they did not discover 
the flame ; they only knew that they were saved as the 
clear sky greeted them from behind the dense smoke-cloud. 

Two of the Indians and their horses were caught in their 
own trap, and perished miserably. They had attempted 
to reach the east side of the rock, so as to steal around to 
the other side where the mules were, and either cut them 
loose or crawl up on the trappers while bewildered in the 
smoke and kill them, if they were not already dead. But 
they had proceeded only a few rods on their little expedi- 
tion, when the terrible darkness of the smoke-cloud over- 
took them and soon the flames, from which there was no 
possible escape. 

All the game on the prairie which the fire swept over 
was killed too. Only a few buffalo were visible in that 
region before the fire, but even they were killed. The 
path of the flames, as was discovered by the caravans that 
passed over the Trail a few days afterward, was marked 
with the crisp and blackened carcasses of wolves, coyotes, 
turkeys, grouse, and every variety of small birds indigenous 
to the region. Indeed, it seemed as if no living thing it 
had met escaped its fury. The fire assumed such gigantic 
proportions, and moved with such rapidity before the wind, 
that even the Arkansas River did not check its path for 
a moment ; it was carried as reaclity across as if the 
stream had not been in its way. 

The first thought of the trappers on the rock was for 
their poor mules. One crawled to where they were, and 
found them badly singed, but not seriously injured. The 
men began to brighten up again when they knew that their 
means of transportation were relatively all right, and 



416 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

themselves also, and they took fresh courage, beginning to 
believe they should get out of their bad scrape after all. 

In tbe meantime the Indians, with the exception of 
three or four left to guard the rock, so as to prevent the 
trappers from getting away, had gone back to their camp 
in the ravine, and were evidently concocting some new 
scheme for the discomfort of the besieged trappers. The 
latter waited patiently two or three hours for the develop- 
ment of events, snatching a little sleep by turns, which 
they needed much ; for both were worn out by their con- 
stant watching. At last when the sun was about three hours 
high, the Indians commenced their infernal howling again, 
and then the trappers knew they had decided upon some- 
thing ; so they were on the alert in a moment to discover 
what it was, and euchre them if possible. 

The devils this time had tied all their ponies together, 
covered them with branches of trees that they had gone 
up on the Walnut for, packed some lodge-skins on 
these, and then, driving the living breastworks before 
them, moved toward the rock. They proceeded cautiously 
but surely, and matters began to look very serious for 
the trappers. As the strange cavalcade approached, a 
trapper raised his rifle, and a masked pony tumbled over 
on the scorched sod dead. As one of the Indians ran 
to cut him loose, the other trapper took him off his feet 
by a well-directed shot ; he never uttered a groan. The 
besieged now saw their only salvation was to kill the ponies 
and so demoralize the Indians that they would have to 
abandon such tactics, and quicker than I can tell it, they 
had stretched four more out on the prairie, and made it 
so hot for the savages that they ran out of range and 
began to hold a council of war. 

Finding that their plan would not work, — for as the last 
pony was shot, the rest stampeded and were running wild 
over the prairie, — the Indians soon went back to their 



PAWNEE ROCK 417 

camp again, and the trappers now had a few spare moments 
in which to take an account of stock. They discovered, 
much to their chagrin, that they had used up all their 
ammunition except three or four loads, and despair hovered 
over them once more. 

The Indians did not reappear that evening, and the 
cause was apparent ; for in the distance could be seen a 
long line of wagons, one of the large American caravans 
en route to Santa Fe. The savages had seen it before the 
trappers, and had cleared out. When the train arrived 
opposite the rock, the relieved men came down from their 
little fortress, joined the caravan, and camped with the 
Americans that night on the Walnut. While they were 
resting around their camp-fire, smoking and telling of their 
terrible experience on the top of the rock, the Indians 
could be heard chanting the death-song while they were 
burying their warriors under the blackened sod of the 
prairie. 

I witnessed a spirited encounter between a small band 
of Cheyennes and Pawnees in the fall of 1867. It oc- 
curred on the open prairie north of the mouth of the 
Walnut, and not a great distance from Pawnee Rock. 
Both tribes were hunting buffalo, and when they, by acci- 
dent, discovered the presence of each other, with a yell 
that fairly shook the sand dunes on the Arkansas, they 
rushed at once into the shock of battle. 

That night, in a timbered bend of the Walnut, the victors 
had a grand dance, in which scalps, ears, and fingers of their 
enemies, suspended by strings to long poles, were impor- 
tant accessories to their weird orgies around their huge 
camp-fires. 1 

One of the most horrible massacres in the history of the 
Trail occurred at Little Cow Creek in the summer of 1864. 

1 It was in this fight that the infamous Charles Bent received his death- 
wound. 

2 E 



418 THE OLD SANTA EE TRAIL 

In July of that year a government caravan, loaded with 
military stores for Fort Union in New Mexico, left Fort 
Leavenworth for the long and dangerous journey of more 
than seven hundred miles over the great plains, which that 
season were infested by Indians to a degree almost without 
precedent in the annals of freight traffic. 

The train was owned by a Mr. H. C. Barret, a contractor 
with the quartermaster's department ; but he declined to 
take the chances of the trip unless the government would 
lease the outfit in its entirety, or give him an indemnifying 
bond as assurance against any loss. The chief quarter- 
master executed the bond as demanded, and Barret hired 
his teamsters for the hazardous journey ; but he found it a 
difficult matter to induce men to go out that season. 

Among those whom he persuaded to enter his employ 
was a mere boy, named McGee, who came wandering into 
Leavenworth a few weeks before the train was readv to 
leave, seeking work of any description. His parents had 
died on their way to Kansas, and on his arrival at West- 
port Landing, the emigrant outfit that had extended to 
him shelter and protection in his utter loneliness was 
disbanded; so the youthful orphan was thrown on his own 
resources. At that time the Indians of the great plains, 
especially along the line of the Santa Fe Trail, were very 
hostile, and continually harassing the freight caravans and 
stage-coaches of the overland route. Companies of men 
were enlisting and being mustered into the United States 
service to go out after the savages, and young Robert 
McGee volunteered with hundreds of others for the dan- 
gerous duty. The government needed men badly, but 
McGee's youth militated against him, and he was be- 
low the required stature ; so he was rejected by the muster- 
ing officer. 

Mr. Barret, in hunting for teamsters to drive his cara- 
van, came across McGee, who, supposing that he was 



PAWNEE ROCK 419 

hiring as a government employee, accepted Mr. Barret's 
offer. 

By the last day of June the caravan was all ready, and 
on the morning of the next day, July 1, the wagons 
rolled out of the fort, escorted by a company of United 
States troops, from the volunteers referred to. 

The caravan wound its weary way over the lonesome 
Trail with nothing to relieve the monotony save a few 
skirmishes with the Indians ; but no casualties occurred 
in these insignificant battles, the savages being afraid to 
venture too near on account of the presence of the mili- 
tary escort. 

On the 18th of Juty, the caravan arrived in the vicinity 
of Fort Larned. There it was supposed that the proximity 
of that military post would be a sufficient guarantee from 
any attack of the savages ; so the men of the train became 
careless, and as the day was excessively hot, they went 
into camp earl}' in the afternoon, the escort remaining in 
bivouac about a mile in the rear of the train. 

About five o'clock, a hundred and fifty painted savages, 
under the command of Little Turtle of the Brule Sioux, 
swooped down on the unsuspecting caravan while the men 
were enjoying their evening meal. Not a moment was 
given them to rally to the defence of their lives, and of all 
belonging to the outfit, with the exception of one boy, 
not a soul came out alive. 

The teamsters were every one of them shot dead and 
their bodies horribly mutilated. After their successful 
raid, the savages destroyed everything they found in the 
wagons, tearing the covers into shreds, throwing the flour 
on the trail, and winding up by burning everything that 
was combustible. 

On the same day the commanding officer of Fort Larned 
had learned from some of his scouts that the Brule Sioux 
were on the war-path, and the chief of the scouts with a 



420 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

handful of soldiers was sent out to reconnoitre. They 
soon struck the trail of Little Turtle and followed it to 
the scene of the massacre on Cow Creek, arriving there 
only two hours after the savages had finished their devilish 
work. Dead men were lying about in the short buffalo- 
grass which had been stained and matted by their flowing 
blood, and the agonized posture of their bodies told far more 
forcibly than any language the tortures which had come 
before a welcome death. All had been scalped; all had 
been mutilated in that nameless manner which seems to 
delight the brutal instincts of the North American savage. 

Moving slowly from one to the other of the lifeless 
forms which still showed the agony of their death-throes, 
the chief of the scouts came across the bodies of two boys, 
both of whom had been scalped and shockingly wounded, 
besides being mutilated, yet, strange to say, both of them 
were alive. As tenderly as the men could lift them, they 
were conveyed at once back to Fort Larnecl and given in 
charge of the post surgeon. One of the boys died in a 
few hours after his arrival in the hospital, but the other, 
Robert McGee, slowly regained his strength, and came out 
of the ordeal in fairly good health. 

The story of the massacre was related by young McGee, 
after he was able to talk, while in the hospital at the 
fort; for he had not lost consciousness during the suffering 
to which he was subjected by the savages. 

He was compelled to witness the tortures inflicted on 
his wounded and captive companions, after which he was 
dragged into the presence of the chief, Little Turtle, who 
determined that he would kill the boy with his own hands. 
He shot him in the back with his own revolver, having' 
first knocked him down with a lance handle. He then 
drove two arrows through the unfortunate boy's body, 
fastening him to the ground, and stooping over his pros- 
trate form ran his knife around his head, lifting sixty-four 



PAWNEE ROCK 



421 



square inches of his scalp, trimming it off just behind his 
ears. 

Believing him dead by that time, Little Turtle aban- 
doned his victim ; but the other savages, as they went by 
his supposed corpse, could not resist their infernal delight 
in blood, so they thrust their knives into him, and bored 
great holes in his body with their lances. 

After the savages had done all that their devilish inge- 
nuity could contrive, they exultingly rode away, yelling as 
they bore off the reeking scalps of their victims, and drove 
away the hundreds of mules they had captured. 

When the tragedy was ended, the soldiers, who had 
from their vantage-ground witnessed the whole diabolical 
transaction, came up to the bloody camp by order of their 
commander, to learn whether the teamsters had driven 
away their assailants, and saw too late what their cowardice 
had allowed to take place. The officer in command 
of the escort was dismissed the service, as he could not 
give any satisfactory reason for not going to the rescue of 
the caravan he had been ordered to guard. 




/orf~Dod^(t 



CHAPTER XXI 

WAGON MOUND JOHN L. HATCHER'S THRILLING ADVENTURE 

WITH OLD WOLF, THE WAR-CHIEF OF THE COMANCHES — ■ 

INCIDENTS ON THE TRAIL A BOY BUGLER'S HAPPY ESCAPE 

FROM THE SAVAGES AT FORT UNION A DRUNKEN STAGE- 
DRIVER HOW AN OFFICER OF THE QUARTERMASTER'S DE- 
PARTMENT AT WASHINGTON SUCCEEDED IN STARTING THE 
MILITARY FREIGHT CARAVANS A MONTH EARLIER THAN 

THE USUAL TIME HOW JOHN CHISHOLM FOOLED THE 

STAGE-ROBBERS THE STORY OF HALF A PLUG OF TOBACCO. 



Jne Jndian of 

loday 



HE Wagon Mound, so 
called from its resem- 
blance to a covered army- 
wagon, is a rocky mesa 
forty miles from Point 
of Rocks, westwardly. 
The stretch of the Trail 
from the latter to the 
mound has been the 
scene of some desperate 
encounters, only ex- 
ceeded in number and 
sanguinary results by 
those which have oc- 
curred in the region of 

Pawnee Rock, the crossing of the Walnut, Pawnee Fork, 

and Cow Creek. 

One of the most remarkable stories of this Wagon 

Mound country dealt with the nerve and bravery exhibited 

422 




itiu 
IfffP 



F00LI1SIG STAGE ROBBERS 423 

by John L. Hatcher in defence of his life, and those of the 
men in his caravan, about 1858. 

Hatcher was a noted trader and merchant of New- 
Mexico. He was also celebrated as an Indian fighter, and 
his name was a terror to the savages who infested the 
settlements of New Mexico and raided the Trail. 

He left Taos, where he then resided, in the summer, 
with his caravan loaded with furs and pelts destined for 
Westport Landing ; to be forwarded from there to St. 
Louis, the only market for furs in the far West. His train 
was a small one, comprising about fifteen wagons and 
handled by about as many men, including himself. At the 
date of his adventure the Indians were believed to be at 
peace with everybody; a false idea, as Hatcher well knew, 
for there never was such a condition of affairs as absolute 
immunity from their attacks. While it might be true that 
the old men refrained for a time from starting out on the 
war-path, there were ever the vastly greater number of rest- 
less young warriors who had not yet earned their eagle 
feathers, who could not be controlled by their chiefs, and 
who were always engaged in marauding, either among the 
border settlements or along the line of the Trail. 

When Hatcher was approaching the immediate vicinity 
of Wagon Mound, 1 with his train strung out in single 
column, to his great astonishment there suddenly charged 
on him from over the hill about three hundred savages, 
all feather-bedecked and painted in the highest style of 
Indian art. As they rode toward the caravan, they gave 
the sign of peace, which Hatcher accepted for the time 
as true, although he knew them well. However, he in- 
vited the head men to some refreshment, as was usual on 
such occasions in those days, throwing a blanket on the 
ground, on which sugar in abundance was served out. 

1 The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa F6 Railroad track runs very close 
to the mound, and there is a station named for the great mesa. 



424 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

The sweet-toothed warriors helped themselves liberally, 
and affected much delight at the way they were being 
treated ; but Hatcher, with his knowledge of the savage 
character, was firm in the belief that they came for no 
other purpose than to rob the caravan and kill him and 
his men. 

They were Comanches, and one of the most noted chiefs 
of the tribe was in command of the band, with some infe- 
.rior chiefs under him. I think it was Old Wolf, a very 
old man then, whose raids into Texas had made his name 
a terror to the Mexicans living on the border. 

While the chiefs were eating their saccharine lunch, 
Hatcher was losing no time in forming his wagons into a 
canal, but he told his friends afterward that he had no 
idea that either he or any of his men would escape ; only 
fifteen or sixteen men against over three hundred merci- 
less savages, and those the worst on the continent, and a 
small corral, — the chances were totally hopeless ! Noth- 
ing but a desperate action could avail, and maybe not even 
that. 1 Hatcher, after the other head men had finished eat- 
ing, asked the old chief to send his young warriors away 
over the hill. They were all sitting close to one of the 
wagons, Old Wolf, in fact, leaning against the wheel 
resting on his blanket, with Hatcher next him on his 
right. Hatcher was so earnest in his appeal to have the 
young men sent away, that both the venerable villain and 
his other chiefs rose and were standing. Without a 
moment's notice or the slightest warning, Hatcher reached 
with his left hand and grabbed Old Wolf by his scalp-lock, 
and with his right drew his butcher-knife from its scab- 
bard and thrust it at the throat of the chief. All this was 

1 The venerable Colonel A. S. Johnson, of Topeka, Kansas, the first 
white child born on the great State's soil, who related to me this adventure 
of Hatcher's, knew him well. He says that he was a small man, full of 
muscle, and as fearless as can be conceived. 



FOOLING STAGE KOBBERS 425 

done in an instant, as quick as lightning ; no one had time 
to move. The situation was remarkable. The little, wiry 
man, surrounded by eight or nine of the most renowned 
warriors of the dreaded Comanches, stood firm ; everybody 
was breathless ; not a word did the savages say. Hatcher 
then said again to Old Wolf, in the most determined man- 
ner: "Send your young men over the hill at once, or I'll 
kill you right where you are! " holding on to the hair of 
the savage with his left hand and keeping the knife at his 
throat. 

The other Indians did not dare to make a move ; they 
knew what kind of a man Hatcher was ; they knew he 
would do as he had said, and that if they attempted a 
rescue he would kill their favourite chief in a second. 

Old Wolf shook his head defiantly in the negative. 
Hatcher repeated his order, getting madder all the time : 
"Send your young men over the hill, I tell you!" Old 
Wolf was still stubborn ; he shook his head again. 
Hatcher gave him another chance: "Send your young 
men over the hill, I tell you, or I'll scalp you alive as 
you are!" Again the chief shook his head. Then 
Hatcher, still holding on the hair of his stubborn victim, 
commenced to make an incision in the head of Old Wolf, 
for the determined man was bound to carry out his threat; 
but he began very slowly. 

As the chief felt the blood trickle down his forehead, 
he weakened. He ordered his next in command to send 
the young men over the hill and out of sight. The 
order was repeated immediately to the warriors, who 
were astonished spectators of the strange scene, and the)' 
quickly mounted their horses and rode away over the hill 
as fast as they could thump their animals' sides with 
their legs, leaving only five or six chiefs with Old Wolf 
and Hatcher. 

Hatcher held on like grim death to the old chief's head, 



426 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

and immediately ordered his men to throw the robes out 
of the wagons as quickly as they could, and get inside 
themselves. This was promptly obeyed, and when they 
were all under the cover of the wagon sheets, Hatcher let 
go of his victim's hair, and, with a last kick, told him 
and his friends that they could leave. They went off, 
and did not return. 

Some laughable incidents have enlivened the generally 
sanguinary history of the Old Santa F6" Trail, but they 
were very serious at the time to those who were the actors, 
and their ludicrousness came after all was over. 

In the late summer of 1866, a thieving band of Apaches 
came into the vicinity of Fort Union, New Mexico, and 
after carefully reconnoitring the whole region and getting 
at the manner in which the stock belonging to the fort 
was herded, they secreted themselves in the Turkey 
Mountains overlooking the entire reservation, and lay 
in wait for several days, watching for a favourable moment 
to make a raid into the valley and drive off the herd. 

Selecting an occasion when the guard was weak and 
not very alert, they in broad daylight crawled under the 
cover of a hill, and, mounting their horses, dashed out 
with the most unearthly yells and down among the ani- 
mals that were quietly grazing close to the fort, which 
terrified these so greatly that they broke away from the 
herders, and started at their best gait toward the moun- 
tains, closely followed by the savages. 

The astonished soldiers used every effort to avert the 
evident loss of their charge, and many shots were ex- 
changed in the running fight that ensued; but the Indians 
were too strong for them, and they were forced to abandon 
the chase. 

Among the herders was a bugler boy, who was remark- 
able for his bravery in the skirmish and for his untiring 
endeavours to turn the animals back toward the fort, but 



FOOLING STAGE ROBBERS 427 

all without avail; on they went, with the savages, close 
to their heels, giving vent to the most vociferous shouts 
of exultation, and directing the most obscene and insult- 
ing gesticulations to the soldiers that were after them. 

While this exciting contest for the mastery was going 
on, an old Apache chief dashed in the rear of the bold 
bugler boy, and could, without doubt, easily have killed 
the little fellow; but instead of doing this, from some 
idea of a good joke, or for some other incomprehensible 
reason, his natural blood-thirsty instinct was changed, and 
he merely knocked the bugler's hat from his head with 
the flat of his hand, and at the same time encouragingly 
stroked his hair, as much as to say : " You are a brave boy, " 
and then rode off without doing him any harm. 

Thirty years ago last August, I was riding from Fort 
Larned to Fort Union, New Mexico, in the overland coach. 
I had one of my clerks with me ; we were the only passen- 
gers, and arrived at Fort Dodge, which was the commence- 
ment of the " long route," at midnight. There we changed 
drivers, and at the break of day were some twenty-four 
miles on our lonely journey. The coach was rattling along 
at a breakneck gait, and I saw that something was evi- 
dently wrong. Looking out of one of the doors, I noticed 
that our Jehu was in a beastly state of intoxication. It 
was a most dangerous portion of the Trail ; the Indians 
were not in the best of humours, and an attack was not at 
all improbable before we arrived at the next station, Fort 
Lyon. 

I said to my clerk that something must be done ; so I 
ordered the driver to halt, which he did willingly, got out, 
and found that, notwithstanding his drunken mood, he 
was very affable and disposed to be full of fun. I sug- 
gested that he get inside the coach and lie down to sleep 
off his potations, to which he readily assented, while I 
and my clerk, after snugly fixing him on the cushions, 



428 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

got on the boot, I taking the lines, he seizing an old 
trace-chain, with which he pounded the mules along; for 
we felt ourselves in a ticklish predicament should we come 
across any of the brigands of the plains, on that lonely 
route, with the animals to look out for, and only two of 
us to do the fighting. 

Suddenly we saw sitting on the bank of the Arkansas 
River, about a dozen rods from the Trail, an antiquated- 
looking savage with his war -bonnet on, and armed with a 
long lance and his bow and arrows. We did not care a 
cent for him, but I thought he might be one of the tribe's 
runners, lying in wait to discover the condition of the 
coach, — whether it had an escort, and how many were rid- 
ing in it, and that then he would go and tell how ridicu- 
lously small the outfit was, and swoop down on us with a 
band of his colleagues, that were hidden somewhere in the 
sand hills south of the river. He rose as we came near, 
and made the sign, after he had given vent to a series 
of " How's ! " that he wanted to talk ; but we were not 
anxious for any general conversation with his savage 
majesty just then, so my clerk applied the trace-chain 
more vigorously to the tired mules, in order to get as 
many miles between him and the coach as we could before 
he could get over into the sand hills and back. 

It was, fortunately, a false alarm; the old warrior per- 
haps had no intentions of disturbing us. We arrived at 
Fort Lyon in good season, with our valorous driver abso- 
lutely sobered, requesting me to say nothing about his 
accident, which, of course, I did not. 

As has been stated, the caravans bound for Santa Fe 
and the various forts along the line of the Old Trail did 
not leave the eastern end of the route until the grass on 
the plains, on which the animals depended solely for sub- 
sistence the whole way, grew sufficiently to sustain them, 
which was usually about the middle of May. But a great 



FOOLING STAGE ROBBERS 429 

many years ago, one of the high officials of the quarter- 
master's department at Washington, who had never been 
for a moment on duty on the frontier in his life, found a 
g-ood deal of fault with what he thought the dilatoriness 
of the officer in charge at Fort Leavenworth, who con- 
trolled the question of transportation for the several forts 
scattered all over the West, for not getting the freight 
caravans started earlier, which the functionary at the 
capital said must and should be done. He insisted that 
they must leave the Missouri River by the middle of April, 
a month earlier than usual, and came out himself to super- 
intend the matter. He made the contracts accordingly, 
easily finding contractors that suited him. He then wrote 
to headquarters in a triumphant manner that he had 
revolutionized the whole system of army transportation of 
supplies to the military posts. Delighted with his suc- 
cess, he rode out about the second week of May to Salt 
Creek, only three miles from the fort, and, very much to 
his astonishment, found his teams, which he had believed 
to be on the way to Santa Fe" a month ago, snugly en- 
camped. They had "started," just as was agreed. 

There are, or rather were, hundreds of stories current 
thirty-five years ago of stage-coach adventures on the 
Trail; a volume could be filled with them, but I must 
confine myself to a few. 

John Chisholm was a famous ranchman a long while 
ago, who had so many cattle that it was said he did not 
know their number himself. At one time he had a large 
contract to furnish beef to an Indian agency in Arizona; 
he had just delivered an immense herd there, and very 
wisely, after receiving his cash for them, sent most of it 
on to Santa F6 in advance of his own journey. When he 
arrived there, he started for the Missouri River with a 
thousand- dollars and sufficient small change to meet his 
current expenses on the road. 



430 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

The very first night out from Santa F6", the coach was 
halted by a band of men who had been watching Chisholm's 
movements from the time he left the agency in Arizona. 
The instant the stage came to a standstill, Chisholm divined 
what it meant, and had time to thrust a roll of money 
down one of the legs of his trousers before the door was 
thrown back and he was ordered to fork over what he had. 

He invited the robbers to search him, and to take what 
they might find, but said he was not in a financial condi- 
tion at that juncture to turn over much. The thieves 
found his watch, took that, and then began to search him. 
As luck would have it, they entirely missed the roll that 
was down his leg, and discovered but a two-dollar bill 
in his vest. When he told them it was all he had to 
buy grub on the road, one of the robbers handed him a 
silver dollar, remarking as he did so : " That a man who 
was mean enough to travel with only two dollars ought to 
starve, but he would give him the dollar just to let him 
know that he was dealing with gentlemen ! " 

One of the essentials to the comfort of the average sol- 
dier is tobacco. He must have it ; he would sooner forego 
any component part of his ration than give it up. 

In November, 1865, a detachment of Company L, 
of the Eleventh Kansas Volunteers, and of the Second 
Colorado were ordered from Fort Lamed to Fort Lyon 
on a scouting expedition along the line of the Trail, the 
savages having been very active in their raids on the 
freight caravans. 

In a short time their tobacco began to run low, and as 
there was no settlement of any kind between the two 
military jtosts, there was no chance to replenish their 
stock. One night, while encamped on the Arkansas, 
the only piece that was left in the whole command, about 
half a plug, was unfortunately lost, and there was dismay 
in the camp when the fact was announced. Hours were 



FOOLING STAGE ROBBERS 431 

spent in searching for the missing treasure. The next 
morning the march was delayed for some time, while fur- 
ther diligent search was instituted by all hands, but with- 
out result, and the command set out on its weary tramp, 
as disconsolate as may well be imagined by those wllo are 
victims to the habit of chewing the weed. 

Arriving at Fort Lyon, to their greater discomfort it 
was learned that the sutler at that post was entirely out 
of the coveted article, and the troops began their return 
journey more disconsolate than ever. Dry leaves, grass, 
and even small bits of twigs, were chewed as a substitute, 
until, reaching the spot where they had lost the part of 
a plug, they determined to remain there that night and 
begin a more vigorous hunt for the missing piece. Just 
before dark their efforts were rewarded; one of the men 
found it, and such a scramble occurred for even the small- 
est nibble at it! Enormous juices were given for a single 
chew. It opened at one dollar for a mere sliver, rose to 
five, and closed at ten dollars when the last morsel was 
left. 



Ik&£ 




7/icJo/i/dr/tfcmj Peak 



CHAPTER XXII 



SOLITARY GRAVES ALONG THE LINE OF THE OLD SANTA FE 

TRAIL THE WALNUT CROSSING FORT ZARAH THE GRAVES 

ON HON. D. HEIZER'S RANCH ON THE WALNUT TROOPS 

STATIONED AT THE CROSSING OF THE WALNUT A TERRIBLE 

FIVE MILES THE CAVALRY RECRUIT'S LAST RIDE 



N the Rocky Mountains 
and on the great plains 
along the line of the Old 
Trail are many rude and 
widely separated graves. 
The sequestered little val- 
leys, the lonely gulches, 
and the broad prairies through 
ffl* which the highway to New 
fe. Mexico wound its course, hide 
R the bones of hundreds of whom 
W the world will never have any 
more knowledge. The number 
of these solitary, and almost oblit- 
erated mounds is small when compared 
with the vast multitude in the cemeteries of our towns, 
though if the host of those whose bones are mouldering 
under the short buffalo-grass and tall blue-stem of the 
prairies between the Missouri and the mountains were 
tabulated, the list would be appalling. Their aggregate 
will never be known ; for the once remote region of the 
mid-continent, like the ocean, rarely gave up its victims. 

432 




A DESPERATE RIDE 433 

Lives went out there as goes an expiring candle, suddenly, 
swiftly, and silently ; no record was kept of time or place. 
All those who thus died are graveless and mpnumentless, 
the great circle of the heavens is the dome of their sepul- 
chre, and the recurring blossoms of springtime their only 
epitaph. 

Sometimes the traveller over the Old Trail will sud- 
denly, in the most unexpected places, come across a little 
mound, perhaps covered with stones, under which lie the 
mouldering bones of some unfortunate adventurer. Above, 
now on a rude board, then on a detached rock, or maybe 
on the wall of a beetling canon, he may frequently read, 
in crude pencilling or rougher carving, the legend of the 
dead man's ending. 

The line of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, 
which practically runs over the Old Trail for nearly its 
whole length to the mountains, is a fertile field of iso- 
lated graves. The savage and soldier, the teamster and 
scout, the solitary trapper or hunter, and many others 
who have gone down to their death fighting with the 
relentless nomad of the plains, or have been otherwise 
ruthlessly cut off, mark with their last resting-places that 
well-worn pathway across the continent. 

The tourist, looking from his car-window as he is whirled 
with the speed of a tornado toward the snow-capped peaks 
of the " Great Divide," may see as he approaches Walnut 
Creek, three miles east of the town of Great Bend in 
Kansas, on the beautiful ranch of Hon. D. Heizer, not 
far from -the stream, and close to the house, a series of 
graves, numbering, perhaps, a score. These have been most 
religiously cared for by the patriotic proprietor of the place 
during all the long years since 1864, as he believes them 
to be the last resting-place of soldiers who were once a 
portion of the garrison of Fort Zarah, the ruins of which 
(now a mere hole in the earth) are but a few hundred 

2 F 



434 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

yards away, on the opposite side of the railroad track, 
plainly visible from the train. 

The Walnut debouches into the Arkansas a short dis- 
tance from where the railroad crosses the creek, and at 
this point, too, the trail from Fort Leavenworth merges 
into the Old Santa Fe. The broad pathway is very 
easily recognized here ; for it runs over a hard, flinty, low 
divide, that has never been disturbed by the plough, and 
the traveller has only to cast his eyes in a northeasterly 
direction in order to see it plainly. 

The creek is fairly well timbered to-day, as it has been 
ever since the first caravan crossed the clear water of the 
little stream. It was always a favourite place of ambush 
bj' the Indians, and many a conflict has occurred in the 
beautiful bottom bounded by a margin of trees on two 
sides, between the traders, trappers, troops, and the Indians, 
and also between the several tribes that were hereditary 
enemies, particularly the Pawnees and the Cheyennes. 
It is only about sixteen miles east of Pawnee Rock, and 
included in that region of debatable ground where no 
band of Indians dared establish a permanent village; for it 
was claimed by all the tribes, but really owned by none. 

In 1864 the commerce of the great plains had reached 
enormous proportions, and immense caravans rolled day 
after day toward the blue hills which guard the portals of 
New Mexico, and the precious freight constantly tempted 
the wily savages to plunder. 

To protect the caravans on their monotonous route 
through the " Desert," as this portion of the plains was 
then termed, troops were stationed, a mere handful rela- 
tively, at intervals on the Trail, to escort the freighters 
and mail coaches over the most exposed and dangerous 
portions of the way. 

On the bank of the Walnut, at this time, were stationed 
three hundred unassigned recruits of the Third Wisconsin 



A DESPERATE RIDE 435 

Cavalry, under the command of Captain Conkey. This 
point was rightly regarded as one of the most important 
on the whole overland route ; for near it passed the 
favourite highway of the Indians on their yearhy migra- 
tions north and south, in the wake of the strange elliptical 
march of the buffalo far beyond the Platte, and back to 
the sunny knolls of the Canadian. 

This primitive cantonment which grew rapidly in stra- 
tegical importance, was two years later made quite formid- 
able defensively, and named Fort Zarah, in memory of the 
youngest son of Major General Curtis, who was killed by 
guerillas somewhere south of Fort Scott, Kansas, while 
escorting General James G. Blunt, of frontier fame during 
the Civil War. 

Captain Henry Booth, during the year above mentioned, 
was chief of cavalry and inspecting officer of the military 
district of the Upper Arkansas, the western geographical 
limits of which extended to the foot-hills of the moun- 
tains. 

One day he received an order from the head-quarters 
of the department to make a special inspection of all 
the outposts on the Santa Fe Trail. He was stationed 
at Fort Riley at the time, and the evening the order ar- 
rived, active preparations were immediately commenced 
for his extended and hazardous trip across the plains. 
Lieutenant Hallowell, of the Ninth Wisconsin Battery, 
was to accompany him, and both officers went at once 
to their quarters, took down from the walls, where they 
had been hanging idly for weeks, their rifles and pistols, 
and carefully examined and brushed them up for possible 
service in the dreary Arkansas bottom. Camp-kettles, 
until late in the night, sizzled and sputtered over crack- 
ling log-fires ; for their proposed ride beyond the settle- 
ments demanded cooked rations for many a weary day. 
All the preliminaries arranged, the question of the means 



436 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

of transportation was determined, and, curiously enough, 
it saved the lives of the two officers in the terrible gaunt- 
let they were destined to run. 

Hallowell was a famous whip, and prided himself upon 
the exceptionally fine turnout which he daily drove among 
the picturesque hills around the fort. 

" Booth," said he in the evening, " let's not take a great 
lumbering ambulance on this trip ; if you will get a good 
way-up team of mules from the quartermaster, we'll use 
my light rig, and we'll do our own driving." 

To this proposition Booth readily assented, procured 
the mules, and, as it turned out, they were a "good way- 
up team." 

Hallowell had a set of bows fitted to his light wagon, 
over which was thrown an army-wagon-sheet, drawn up 
behind with a cord, similar to those of the ordinary emi- 
grant outfit to be seen daily on the roads of the Western 
prairies. A round hole was necessarily left in the rear 
end, serving the purpose of a lookout. 

Two grip-sacks, containing their dress uniforms, a box 
of crackers and cheese, meat and sardines, together with a 
bottle of anti-snake bite, made up the principal freight for 
the long journey, and in the clear cold of the early morn- 
ing they rolled out of the gates of the fort, escorted by 
Company L, of the Eleventh Kansas, commanded by Lieu- 
tenant Van Antwerp. 

The company of one hundred mounted men acting as 
escort was too formidable a number for the Indians, and 
not a sign of one was seen as the dangerous flats of 
Plum Creek and the rolling country beyond were suc- 
cessively passed, and early in the afternoon the canton- 
ment on Walnut Creek was reached. At this important 
outpost Captain Conkey's command was living in a rude 
but comfortable sort of a way, in the simplest of dug- 
outs, constructed along the right bank of the stream ; the 



A DESPERATE RIDE 437 

officers, a little more in accordance with military dignity, 
in tents a few rods in rear of the line of huts. 

A stockade stable had been built, with a capacity for 
two hundred and fifty horses, and sufficient hay had been 
put up by the men in the fall to carry the animals through 
the winter. 

Captain Conkey was a brusque but kind-hearted man, 
and with him were stationed other officers, one of whom 
was a son of Admiral Goldsboroug-h. The morning' after 
the arrival of the inspecting officers a rigid examination 
of all the appointments and belongings of the place was 
made, and, as an immense amount of property had ac- 
cumulated for condemnation, when evening came the 
books and papers were still untouched; so that branch 
of the inspection had to be postponed until the next 
morning. 

After dark, while sitting around the camp-fire, discussing 
the war, telling stories, etc., Captain Conkey said to Booth: 
" Captain, it won't require more than half an hour in the 
morning to inspect the papers and finish up what you 
have to do ; why don't you start your escort out very 
early, so it won't be obliged to trot after the ambulance, 
or you to poke along with it? You can then move out 
briskly and make time." 

Booth, acting upon what he thought at the time an ex- 
cellent suggestion, in a few moments went over the creek 
to Lieutenant Van Antwerp's camp, to tell him that he 
need not wait for the wagon in the morning, but to start 
out early, at half-past six, in advance. 

According to instructions, the escort marched out of 
camp at daylight next morning, while Booth and Hallowell 
remained to finish their inspection. It was soon dis- 
covered, however, that either Captain Conkey had under- 
rated the amount of work to be done, or misjudged the 
inspecting officers' ability to complete it in a certain time; 



438 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

so almost three hours elapsed after the cavalry had de- 
parted before the task ended. 

At last everything was closed up, much to Hallowell's 
satisfaction, who had been chafing under the vexatious 
delay ever since the escort left. When all was in readiness, 
the little wagon drawn up in front of the commanding 
officer's quarters, and farewells said, Hallowell suggested 
to Booth the propriety of taking a few of the troops 
stationed there to go with them until they overtook their 
own escort, which mugt now be several miles on the Trail 
to Fort Larned. Booth asked Captain Conkey what he 
thought of Hallowell's suggestion. Captain Conkey re- 
plied: "Oh! there's not the slightest danger; there hasn't 
been an Indian seen around here for over ten days." 

If either Booth or Hallowell had been as well acquainted 
with the methods and character of the plains Indians then 
as they afterward became, they would have insisted upon 
an escort ; but both were satisfied that Captain Conkey 
knew what he was talking about, so they concluded to 
push on. 

Jumping into their wagon, Lieutenant Hallowell took- 
the reins and away they went rattling over the old log 
bridge that used to span the Walnut at the crossing of the 
Old Santa Fe Trail, as light of heart as if riding to a 
dance. 

The morning was bright and clear with a stiff breeze 
blowing from the northwest, and the Trail was frozen hard 
in places, which made it very rough, as it had been cut up 
by the travel of the heavily laden caravans when it was 
wet. Booth sat on the left side of Hallowell with the 
whip in his hand, now and then striking the mules, to keep 
up their speed. Hallowell started up a tune, — he was 
a good singer, — and Booth joined in as they rolled along, 
as oblivious of any danger as though they were in their 
quarters at Fort Riley. 



A DESPERATE HIDE 439 

After they had proceeded some distance, Hallowell re- 
marked to Booth : " The buffalo are grazing a long way 
from the road to-day ; a circumstance that I think bodes no 
good."' He had been on the plains the summer before, and 
was better acquainted with the Indians and their pecul- 
iarities than Captain Booth ; but the latter replied that 
he thought it was because their escort had gone on ahead, 
and had probabty frightened them off. 

The next mile or two was passed, and still they saw 
no buffalo between the Trail and the Arkansas, though 
nothing more was said by either regarding the suspicious 
circumstance, and they rode rapidly on. 

When they had gone about five or six miles from the 
Walnut, Booth, happening to glance toward the river, saw 
something that looked strangely like a flock of turkeys. He 
watched them intently for a moment, when the objects rose 
up and he discovered they were horsemen. He grasped 
Hallowell by the arm, directing his attention to them, and 
said, "What are they?" Hallowell gave a hasty "look 
toward the point indicated, and replied, " Indians ! by 
George!" and immediately turning the mules around on 
the Trail, started them back toward the cantonment on the 
Walnut at a full gallop. 1 

" Hold on ! " said Booth to Hallowell when he under- 
stood the latter's movement; "maybe it's part of our 
escort." 

"No! no!" replied Hallowell. "I know they are Ind- 
ians; I've seen too many of them to be mistaken." 

"Well," rejoined Booth, "I'm going to know for 

certain ; " so, stepping out on the foot-board, and with one 

Jrand holding on to the front bow, he looked back over the 

top of the wagon-sheet. They were Indians, sure enough ; 

1 The place where they turned is about a hundred yards east of the 
Court House Square, in the present town of Great Bend ; it may be seen 
from the cars. 



440 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

they had fully emerged from the ravine in which they had 
hidden, and while he was looking at them they were slip- 
ping- off their buffalo robes from their shoulders, taking 
arrows out of their quivers, drawing up their spears, and 
making ready generally for a red-hot time. 

While Bootli was intently regarding the movements 
of the savages, Hallowed inquired of him : " They're 
Indians, aren't they, Booth ? " 

" Yes," was Booth's answer, " and they're coming down 
on us like a whirlwind." 

" Then I shall never see poor Lizzie again ! " said Hallo- 
well. He had been married only a few weeks before 
starting out on this trip, and his young wife's name came 
to his lips. 

" Never mind Lizzie," responded Booth ; " let's get out 
of here ! " He was as badly frightened as Hallowed, but 
had no bride at Riley, and, as he tells it, " was selfishly 
thinking of himself only, and escape." 

In answer to Booth's remark, Hallowed, in a firm, clear 
voice, said: "All right! You do the shooting, and I'll do 
the driving," and suiting the action to the words, he 
snatched the whip out of Booth's hand, slipped from the 
seat to the front of the wagon, and commenced lashing 
the mules furiously. 

Booth then crawled back, pulled out one of his re- 
volvers, crept, or rather fell, over the " lazy-back " of the 
seat, and reaching the hole made by puckering the wagon- 
sheet, looked out of it, and counted the Indians ; thirty- 
four feather-bedecked, paint-bedaubed savages, as vicious a 
set as ever scalped a white man, swooping down on them 
like a hawk upon a chicken. 

Hallowed, between his yells at the mules, cried out, 
" How far are they off now, Booth ? " for of course he 
could see nothing' of what was going' on in his rear. 

Booth replied as well as he could judge of the distance, 



A DESPERATE RIDE 441 

while Hallowell renewed his yelling at the animals and 
redoubled his efforts with the lash. 

Noiselessly the Indians gained on the little wagon, for 
they had not as yet uttered a whoop, and the determined 
driver, anxious to know how far the red devils were from 
him, again asked Booth. The latter told him how near 
they were, guessing at the distance, from which Hallowell 
gathered inspiration for fresh cries and still more vigorous 
blows with his whip. 

Booth, all this time, was sitting on the box containing 
the crackers and sardines, watching the rapid approach 
of the cut-throats, and seeing with fear and trembling the 
ease with which they gained upon the little mules. 

Once more Hallowell made his stereotyped inquiry of 
Booth ; but before the latter could reply, two shots were 
fired from the rifles of the Indians, accompanied by a yell 
that was demoniacal enough to cause the blood to curdle 
in one's veins. Hallowell yelled at the mules, and Booth 
yelled too ; for what reason he could not tell, unless to 
keep company with his comrade, who plied the whip more 
mercilessly than ever upon the poor animals' backs, and 
the wagon flew over the rough road, nearly upsetting at 
every jump. 

In another moment the bullets from two of the Indians' 
rifles passed between Booth and Hallowell, doing no dam- 
age, and almost instantly the savages charged upon them, 
at the same time dividing into two parties, one going on 
one side and one on the other, both delivering a volley of 
arrows into the wagon as they rode by. 

Just as the savages rushed past the wagon, Hallowell 
.pried out to Booth, " Cap, I'm hit ! " and turning around 
to look, Booth saw an arrow sticking in Hallowell's head 
above his right ear. His arm was still plying the whip, 
which was going on unceasingly as the sails of a windmill, 
and his howling at the mules only stopped long enough to 



442 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

answer, "Not much!" in response to Booth's inquiry of 
"Does it hurt?" as he grabbed the arrow and pulled it 
out of his head. 

The Indians had by this time passed on, and then, cir- 
cling back, prepared for another charge. Down they came, 
again dividing as before into two bands, and delivering 
another shower of arrows. Hallowell ceased his yelling 
long enough to cry out, " I'm hit once more, Cap ! '" 
Looking at the plucky driver, Booth saw this time an 
arrow sticking over his left ear, and hanging down his 
back. He snatched it out, inquiring if it hurt, but received 
the same answer : " No, not much." 

. Both men were now yelling at the top of their voices ; 
and the mules were jerking the wagon along the rough trail 
at a fearful rate, frightened nearly out of their wits at the 
sight of the Indians and the terrible shouting and whipping 
of the driver. 

Booth crawled to the back end of the wagon again, 
looked out of the hole in the cover, and saw the Indians 
moving across the Trail, preparing for another charge. One 
old fellow, mounted on a black pony, was jogging along in 
the centre of the road behind them, but near enough and 
evidently determined to send an arrow through the puck- 
ered hole of the sheet. In a moment the savage stopped 
his pony and let fly. Booth dodged sideways, — the 
arrow sped on its course, and whizzing through the 
opening, struck the black-walnut " lazy-back " of the seat, 
the head sticking out on the other side, and the sudden 
check causing the feathered end to vibrate rapidly with 
a vro-o-o-ing sound. With a quick blow Booth struck it, 
and broke the shaft from the head, leaving the latter 
embedded in the wood. 

As quickly as possible, Booth rushed to the hole and 
fired his revolver at the old devil, but failed to hit him. 
While he was trying to get in another shot, an arrow 



A DESPERATE RIDE 443 

came flying through from the left side of the Trail, and 
striking him on the inside of the elbow, or " crazy-bone," 
so completely benumbed his hand that he could not hold 
on to the pistol, and it dropped into the road with one 
load still in its chamber. Just then the mules gave an 
extraordinary jump to one side, which jerked the wagon 
nearly from under him, and he fell sprawling on the end- 
gate, evenly balanced, with his hands on the outside, 
attempting to clutch at something to save himself ! Seeing 
his predicament, the Indians thought they had him sure, 
so they gave a yell of exultation, supposing he must 
tumble out, but he didn't; he fortunately succeeded in 
grabbing one of the wagon-bows with his right hand and 
pulled himself in ; but it was a close call. 

While all this was going on, Hallowell had not been 
neglected by the Indians ; about a dozen of them had 
devoted their time to him, but he never flinched. Just as 
Booth had regained his equilibrium and drawn his second 
revolver from its holster, Hallowell yelled to him : " Right 
off to your right, Cap, quick ! " 

Booth tumbled over the back of the seat, and, clutching 
at a wagon-bow to steady himself, he saw, " off to the 
right," an Indian who was in the act of letting an arrow 
drive at Hallowell ; it struck the side of the box, and at 
the same instant Booth fired, scaring the red devil badly. 

Back over the seat again he rushed to guard the rear, 
only to find a young buck riding close to the side of 
the wagon, his pony running in the deep path made by 
the ox-drivers in walking alongside of their teams. 
Putting his left arm around one of the wagon-bows to 
prevent his being jerked out, Booth quietly stuck his 
revolver through the hole in the sheet; but before he 
could pull the trigger, the Indian flopped over on the 
off side of his pony, and nothing could be seen of him 
excepting one arm around his animal's neck and from 



444 THE OED SANTA FE TRAIL 

the knee to the toes of one leg. Booth did not wait for 
him to ride up ; he could almost hit the pony's head with 
his hand, so close was he to the wagon. Booth struck at 
the beast several times, but the Indian kept him right up 
in his place by whipping him on the opposite of his neck. 
Presently the plucky savage's arm began to move. Booth 
watched him intently, and saw that he had fixed an arrow 
in his bow under the pony's shoulder ; just as he was on 
the point of letting go the bowstring, with the head of 
the arrow not three feet from Booth's breast as he leaned 
out of the hole, the latter struck frantically at the weapon, 
dodged back into the wagon, and up came the Indian. 
Whenever Booth looked out, down went the Indian on 
the other side of his pony, to rise again in a moment, and 
Booth, afraid to risk himself with his head and breast 
exposed at this game of hide and seek, drew suddenly 
back as the Indian went down the third time, and in a 
second came up ; but this was once too often. Booth had 
not dodged completely into the wagon, nor dropped his 
revolver, and as the Indian rose he fired. 

The savage was naked to the waist; the ball struck him 
in the left nipple, the blood spirted out of the wound, his 
bow and arrows and lariat, with himself, rolled off the 
pony, falling heavily on the ground, and with one convuh 
sive contraction of his legs and an " Ugh ! " he was as dead 
as a stone. 

" I've killed one of 'em ! " called out Booth to Hallowell, 
as he saw his victim tumble from his pony. 

" Bully for you, Cap ! " came Hallowell's response as 
he continued his shouting, and the blows of that tireless 
whip fell incessantly on the backs of the poor mules. 

After he had killed the warrior, Booth kept his seat on 
the cracker box, watching to see what the Indians were 
going to do next, when he was suddenly interrupted by 
Hallowell's crying out to him: "Off to the right again, 



A DESPERATE RIDE 445 

Cap, quick! "and, whirling around, instantly, he saw an 
Indian within three feet of the wagon, with his bow and 
arrow almost ready to shoot; there was no time to get over 
the seat, and as he could not fire so close to Hallowell, he 
cried to the latter: "Hit' him with the whip! Hit him 
with the whip!" The lieutenant diverted one of the 
blows intended for the mules, and struck the savage fairly 
across the face. The whip had a knot in the end of it to 
prevent its unravelling, and this knot must have hit the 
Indian squarely in the eye; for he dropped his bow, put 
both hands up to his face, rubbed his eyes, and digging 
his heels into his pony's sides was soon out of range of a 
revolver; but, nevertheless, he was given a parting shot 
as a sort of salute. 

A terrific yell from the rear at this moment caused both 
Booth and Hallowell to look around, and the latter to 
inquire: "What's the matter now, Booth?" "They are 
coming down on us like lightning," said he; and, sure 
enough, those who had been prancing around their dead 
comrade were tearing along the Trail toward the wagon 
with a more hideous noise than when they began. 

Hallowell yelled louder than ever and lashed the mules 
more furiously still, but the Indians gained upon them 
as easily as a blooded racer on a common farm plug. Sepa- 
rating as before, and passing on each side of the wagon, 
they delivered another volley of bullets and arrows as they 
rushed on. 

When this charge was made, Booth drew away from the 
hole in the rear and turned toward the Indians, but forgot 
that as he was sitting, with his back pressed against the 
sheet, his body was plainly outlined on the canvas. 

When the Indians dashed by Hallowell cried out, "I'm 
hit again, Cap!" and Booth, in turning around to go to 
his relief, felt something pulling at him; and glancing 
over his left shoulder he discovered an arrow sticking 



446 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

into him and out through the wagon-sheet. With a jerk 
of his body, he tore himself loose, and going to Hallowell, 
asked him where he was hit. "In the back," was the re- 
ply; where Booth saw an arrow extending under the 
"lazy-back" of the seat. Taking hold of it, Booth gave 
a pull, but Hallowell squirmed so that he desisted..,, 
"Pull it out! " cried the plucky driver. Booth thereupon 
took hold of it again, and giving a jerk or two, out it 
came. He was thoroughly frightened as he saw it leave 
the lieutenant's body ; it seemed to have entered at least 
six inches, and the wound appeared to be a dangerous 
one. Hallowell, however, did not cease for a moment 
belabouring the mules, and his yells rang out as clear 
and defiant as before. 

After extracting the arrow from Hallowell's back, Booth 
turned again to the opening in the rear of the wagon to see 
what new tricks the devils were up to, when Hallowell 
again called out, " Off to the left, Cap, quick ! " 

Rushing to the front as soon as possible, Booth saw one 
of the savages in the very act of shooting at Hallowell 
from the left side of the wagon, not ten feet away. The 
last revolver was empty, but something had to be done at 
once; so, levelling the weapon at him, Booth shouted 
"Bang! you son-of-a-gun ! " Down the Indian ducked 
his head; rap, rap, went his knees against his pony's 
sides, and away he flew over the prairie! 

Back to his old place in the rear tumbled Booth, to load 
his revolver. The cartridges they used in the army in 
those days were the old-fashioned kind made of paper. 
Biting off one end, he endeavoured to pour the powder into 
the chamber of the pistol ; but as the wagon was tumbling 
from side to side, and jumping up and down, as it fairly 
flew over the rough Trail, more fell into the bottom of 
the wagon than into the revolver. Just as he was insert- 
ing a ball, Hallowell yelled, "To the left, Cap, quick!" 



A DESPERATE RIDE 447 

Over the seat Booth piled once more, and there was 
another Indian with his bow and arrow all ready to pinion 
the brave lieutenant. Pointing his revolver at him, Booth 
yelled as he had at the other, but this savage had evidently 
noticed the first failure, and concluded there were no more 
Joads left; so, instead of taking a hasty departure, he 
grinned demoniacally and endeavoured to fix the arrow in 
his bow. Booth rose up in the wagon, and grasping hold 
of one of its bows with his left hand, seized the revolver 
by the muzzle, and with all the force he could muster 
hurled it at the impudent brute. It was a Remington, 
its barrel octagon-shaped, with sharp corners, and when 
it was thrown, it turned in the air, and striking the 
Indian muzzle-first on the ribs, cut a long gash. 

"Ugh!" he grunted, as, dropping his bow and spear, 
he flung himself over the side of his pony, and away he 
went across the prairie. 

Only one revolver remaining now, and that empty, with 
the savages still howling around the apparently doomed 
men like so many demons ! Booth fell over the seat, as 
was his usual fate whenever he attempted to get to the 
back of the wagon, picked up the empty revolver, and tried 
to load it ; but before he could bite the end of a cartridge, 
Hallowell yelled, "Cap, I'm hit again!" 

"Where this time?" inquired Booth, anxiously. "In 
the hand," replied Hallowell; and, looking around, Booth 
noticed that although his right arm was still thrashing at 
the now lagging mules with as much energy as ever, 
through the fleshy part of the thumb was an arrow, which 
was flopping up and down as he raised and lowered his 
hand in ceaseless efforts to keep up the speed of the 
almost exhausted animals. 

"Let me pull it out," said Booth, as he came forward 
to do so. 

"No, never mind, "replied Hallowell; "can't stop! can't 



448 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

stop! " and up and down went the arm, and flip, flap, went 
the arrow with it, until finally it tore through the flesh 
and fell to the ground. 

Along they bowled, the Indians yelling, and the occu- 
pants of the little wagon defiantly answering them, while 
Booth continued to struggle desperately with that empty* 
pistol, in his vain efforts to load it. In another moment 
Hallowell shouted, "Booth, they are trying to crowd the 
mules into the sunflowers ! " 

Alongside of the Trail huge sunflowers had grown the 
previous summer, and now their dry stalks stood as thick 
as a cane-brake ; if the wagon once got among them, it 
would be impossible for the mules to keep up their gallop. 
The savages seemed to realize this ; for one huge old 
fellow kept riding alongside the off mule, throwing his 
spear at him and then jerking it back with the thong, 
one end of which was fastened to his wrist. The near 
mule was constantly pushed further and further from the 
Trail by his mate, which was jumping frantically, scared 
out of his senses by the Indian. 

At this perilous juncture, Booth stepped out on the 
foot-board of the wagon, and, holding on by a bow, com- 
menced to kick the frightened mule vigorously, while 
Hallowell pulled on one line, whipping and yelling at the 
same time; so together they succeeded in forcing the 
animals back into the Trail. 

The Indians kept close to the mules in their efforts to 
force them into the sunflowers, and Booth made several 
attempts to scare the old fellow that was nearest b}' point- 
ing his empty revolver at him, but he would not scare ; so 
in his desperation Booth threw it at him. He missed the 
old brute, but hit his pony just behind its rider's leg, 
which started the animal into a sort of a stampede ; his 
ugly master could not control him, and thus the imme- 
diate peril from the persistent cuss was delayed. 



A DESPERATE RIDE 449 

Now the pair were absolutely without firearms of any 
kind, with nothing left except their sabres and valises, 
and the savages came closer and closer. In turn the two 
swords were thrown at them as they came almost within 
striking distance ; then followed the scabbards, as the howl- 
ing fiends surrounded the wagon and attempted to spear 
the mules. Fortunately their arrows were exhausted. 

The cantonment on the Walnut was still a mile and a 
half away, and there was nothing for our luckless travel- 
lers to do but whip and kick, both of which they did most 
vigorously. Hallowell sat as immovable as the Sphinx, 
excepting his right arm, which from the moment they 
had started on the back trail had not once ceased its 
incessant motion. 

Happening to cast his eyes back on the Trail, Booth saw 
to his dismay twelve or fifteen of the savages- coming up 
on the run with fresh energy, their spears poised ready for 
action, and he felt that something must be done very 
speedily to divert them ; for if these added their number 
to those already surrounding the wagon, the chances 
were they, would succeed in forcing the mules into the 
sunflowers, and his scalp and Hallowell's would dangle 
at the belt of the leader. 

Glancing around in the bottom of the wagon for some 
kind of weapon, his eye fell on the two valises contain- 
ing the dress-suits. He snatched up his own, and threw 
it out while the pursuers were yet five or six rods in the 
rear. The Indians noticed this new trick with a great 
yell of satisfaction, and the moment they arrived at the 
spot where the valise lay, all dismounted; one of them, 
seizing it by the two handles, pulled with all his strength 
to open it, and when he failed, another drew a long knife 
from under his blanket and ripped it apart. He then put 
his hand in, pulling out a sash, which he began to wind 
around his head, like a negress with a bandanna, letting 
2g 



450 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

the tassels hang clown his back. While he was thus 
amusing himself, one of the others had taken out a dress- 
coat, a third a pair of drawers, and still another a shirt, 
which they proceeded to put on, meanwhile dancing 
around and howling. 

Booth told Hallowell of the sacrifice of the valise, 
and said, "I'm going to throw out yours." "All right," 
replied Hallowell; "all we want is time." So out it went 
on the Trail, and shared the same fate as the other. 

The lull in hostilities caused by their outstripping their 
pursuers gave the almost despairing men time to talk over 
their situation. Hallowell said he did not propose to be 
captured and then butchered or burned at the pleasure of 
the Indians. He said to Booth : " If they kill one of the 
mules, and so stop us, let's kick, strike, throw dirt or 
anything, and compel them to kill us on the spot." So 
it was agreed, if the worst came to the worst, to stand 
back to back and fight. 

During this discussion the arm of Hallowell still plied 
the effective lash, and they drew perceptibly nearer the 
camp, and as thej' caught the first glimpse of its tents 
and dugouts, hope sprang up within them. The mules 
were panting like a hound after a deer; wherever the 
harness touched them, it was white with lather, and it 
was evident they could keep on their feet but a short 
time longer. Would they hold out until the bridge was 
reached? The whipping and the kicking had but little 
effect on them now. They still continued their gallop, 
but it was slower and more laboured than before. 

The Indians who had torn open the valises had not 
returned to the chase, and although there Avere still a 
sufficient number of the fiends pursuing to make it inter- 
esting, they did not succeed in spearing the mules, as at 
every attempt the plucky animals would jump sideways 
or forward and evade the impending blow. 



A DESPERATE RIDE 451 

The little log bridge was reached; the savages had all 
retreated, but the valorous Hallowell kept the mules at 
their fastest pace. The bridge was constructed of half- 
round logs, and of course was extremely rough; the wagon 
bounded up and down enough to shake the teeth out of 
one's head as the little animals went flying over it. 
Booth called out to Hallowell, "No need to drive so fast 
now, the Indians have all left us ; " but he replied, " I 
ain't going to stop until I get across ; " and down came the 
whip, on sped the mules, not breaking their short gallop 
until they were pulled up in front of Captain Conkey's 
quarters. 

The rattling of the wagon on the bridge was the first 
intimation the garrison had of its return. 

The officers came running out of their tents, the enlisted 
men poured out of their dugouts like a lot of ants, and 
Booth and Hallowell were surrounded by their friends in 
a moment. Captain Conkey ordered his bugler to sound 
"Boots and Saddles," and in less than ten minutes ninety 
troopers were mounted, and with the captain at their head 
started after the Indians. 

When Hallowell tried to rise from his seat so as to get 
out every effort only resulted in his falling back. Some 
one stepped around to the other side to assist him, when 
it was discovered that the skirt of his overcoat had worked 
outside of the wagon-sheet and hung over the edge, and 
that three or four of the arrows fired at him by the 
savages had struck the side of the wagon, and, passing 
through the flap of his coat, had pinned him down. Booth 
pulled the arrows out and helped him up ; he was pretty 
stiff from sitting in his cramped position so long, and his 
right arm dropped by his side as if paralysed. 

Booth stood looking on while his comrade's wounds 
were being dressed, when the adjutant asked him : " What 
makes you shrug your shoulder so ? " He answered, " I 



452 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

don't know ; something makes it smart." The officer 
looked at him and said, " Well, I don't wonder ; I should 
think it would smart ; here's an arrow-head sticking into 
you," and he tried to pull it out, but it would not come. 
Captain Goldsborough then attempted it, but was not any 
more successful. The doctor then told them to let it 
alone, and he would attend to Booth after he had done 
with Hallowell. When he examined Booth's shoulder, 
he found that the arrow-head had struck the thick portion 
of the shoulder-blade, and had made two complete turns, 
wrapping itself around the muscles, which had to be cut 
apart before the sharp point could be withdrawn. 

Booth was not seriously hurt. Hallowell, however, had 
received two severe wounds ; the arrow that" had lodged 
in his back had penetrated almost to his kidneys, and the 
wound in his thumb was very painful, not so much from 
the simple impact of the arrow as from the tearing away 
of the muscle by the shaft while he was whipping his 
mules ; his right arm, too, was swollen terribly, and so stiff 
from the incessant use of it during the drive that for more 
than a month he required assistance in dressing and un- 
dressing. 

The mules who had saved their lives were of small 
account after their memorable trip ; they remained stiff 
and sore from the rough road and their continued forced 
speed. Booth and Hallowell went out to look at them 
the next morning, as they hobbled around the corral, and 
from the bottom of their hearts wished them well. 

Captain Conkey's command returned to the cantonment 
about midnight. But one Indian had been seen, and he 
was south of the Arkansas in the sand hills. 

The next morning a scouting-party of forty men, under 
command of a sergeant, started out to scour the country 
toward Cow Creek, northeast from the Walnut. 

As I have stated, the troopers stationed at the canton- 



A DESPERATE RIDE 453 

ment on the Walnut were mostly recruits. Now the 
cavalry recruit of the old regular army on the frontier, 
thirty or forty years ago, mounted on a great big American 
horse and sent out with well-trained comrades on a scout 
after the hostile savages of the plains, was the most 
helpless individual imaginable. Coining fresh from some 
large city probably, as soon as he arrived at his station 
he was placed on the back of an animal of whose habits he 
knew as little as he did of the differential calculus ; loaded 
down with a carbine, the muzzle of which he could hardly 
distinguish from the breech ; a sabre buckled around his 
waist ; a couple of enormous pistols stuck in his holsters ; 
his blankets strapped to the cantle of his saddle, and, to 
complete the hopelessness of his condition in a possible 
encounter with a savage enemy who was ever on the alert, 
he was often handicapped by a camp-kettle or two, a 
frying-pan, and ten days' rations. No wonder this doughty 
representative of Uncle Sam's power was an easy prey for 
" Poor Lo," who, when he caught the unfortunate soldier 
away from his command and started after him, must have 
laughed at the ridiculous appearance of his enemy, with 
both hands glued to the pommel of his saddle, his hair on 
end, his sabre flying and striking his horse at every jump 
as the animal tore down the trail toward camp, while the 
Indian, rapidly gaining, in a few minutes had the scalp of 
the hapless rider dangling at his belt, and another of the 
" boys in blue " had joined the majority. 

The scouting-party had proceeded about four or five 
miles, when one of the corporals asked permission for him- 
self and a recruit to go over to the Upper Walnut to find 
out whether they could discover any signs of Indians. 

While they were carelessly riding along the big curve 
which the northern branch of the Walnut makes at that 
point, there suddenly sprang from their ambush in the 
timber on the margin of the stream about three hundred 



454 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

Indians, whooping and yelling. The two troopers, of 
course, immediately whirled their horses and started down 
the creek toward the camp, hotly pursued by the howling 
savages. 

The corporal was an excellent rider; a well-trained 
and disciplined soldier, having seen much service on the 
plains. He led in the flight, closely followed by the un- 
fortunate recruit, who had been enlisted but a short time. 
Not more than an eighth of a mile had been covered, when 
the corporal heard his companion exclaim, — 

" Don't leave me ! Don't leave me ! " 

Looking back, the corporal saw that the poor recruit 
was losing ground rapidly; his horse was rearing and 
plunging, making very little headway, while his rider was 
jerking and pulling on the bit, a curb of the severest kind. 
Perceiving the strait his comrade was in, the corporal 
reined up for a moment and called out, — 

" Let him go ! Let him go ! Don't jerk on the bit so ! " 

The Indians were gaining ground rapidly, and in an- 
other moment the corporal heard the recruit again cry 
out, — 

"Oh! Don't—" 

Realizing that it would be fatal to delay, and that he 
could be of no assistance to his companion, already killed 
and scalped, he leaned forward on his horse, and sinking 
his spurs deep in the animal's flanks fairly flew down the 
valley, with the three hundred savages close in his wake. 

The officers at the camp were sitting in their tents when 
the sentinel on post No. 1 fired his piece, upon which 
all rushed out to learn the cause of the alarm; for there 
was no random shooting in those days allowed around 
camp or in garrison. Looking up the valley of the Wal- 
nut, they could see the lucky corporal, with his long hair 
streaming in the wind, and his heels rapping his horse's 
sides, as he dashed over the brown sod of the winter prairie. 



A DESPERATE RIDE 



455 



The corporal now slackened his pace, rode up to the 
commanding officer's tent, reported the affair, and then 
was allowed to go to his own quarters for the rest he so 
much needed. 

Captain Conkey immediately ordered a mounted squad, 
accompanied by an ambulance, to go up the creek to 
recover the body of the unfortunate recruit. The party 
were absent a little over an hour, and brought back with 
them the remains of the dead soldier. He had been shot 
with an arrow, the point of which was still sticking out 
through his breast-bone. His scalp had been torn com- 
pletely off, and the lapels of his coat and the legs of his 
trousers carried away by the savages. He was buried the 
next morning with military honours, in the little graveyard 
on the bank of the Walnut, where his body still rests in 
the dooryard of the ranch. 




7fie O/d Way 6ytf/c Over/and (oacff 
60 Mi/g m 24 Hours 



CHAPTER XXIII 



GENERAL HANCOCK S EXPEDITION AGAINST THE PLAINS INDIANS 

TERRIBLE SNOW-STORM AT FORT LARNED MEETING WITH 

THE CHIEFS OF THE DOG-SOLDIERS BULL BEAR'S DIPLO- 
MACY MEETING OF THE UNITED STATES TROOPS AND THE 

SAVAGES IN LINE OF BATTLE CUSTER'S NIGHT EXPERIENCE 

THE SURGEON AND DOG STEW DESTRUCTION OF THE 

VILLAGE BY FIRE GENERAL SULLY'S FIGHT WITH THE 

KIOWAS, COMANCHES, AND ARAPAHOES FINDING THE SKELE- 
TONS OF THE UNFORTUNATE MEN THE SAVAGES' REPORT 

OF THE AFFAIR 



Cenerd/ 
(uj/er 



N the spring of 1867, 
General Hancock, who 
then commanded the 
military division of the 
Missouri, with head- 
quarters at Fort Leav- 
enworth, Kansas, or- 
ganized an expedition 
against the Indians of 
the great plains, which 
he led in person. With 
him was General Cus- 
ter, second ranking offi- 
cer, from whom I quote 
the story of the march 
and some of the inci- 
dents of the raid. 
General Hancock, with the artillery and six companies 
of infantry, arrived at Fort Riley, Kansas, the last week 

456 




HANCOCK'S EXPEDITION 457 

iii March, where he was joined by four companies of the 
Seventh Cavalry, commanded by the intrepid Custer. 

From Fort Riley the expedition marched to Fort Harker, 
seventy-two miles farther west, on the Smoky Hill, where 
the force was increased by the addition of two more troops 
of cavalry. Remaining there only long enough to replenish 
their commissary supplies, the march was directed to Fort 
Larned on the Old Santa Fe" Trail. On the 7th of April 
the command reached the latter post, accompanied by the 
agent of the Comanches and Kiowas ; at the fort the agent 
of the Cheyennes, Arapahoes, and Apaches was waiting 
for the arrival of the general. The agent of the three 
last-mentioned tribes had already sent runners to the head 
chiefs, inviting them to a grand council which was to 
assemble near the fort on the 10th of the month, and he 
requested General Hancock to remain at the fort with his 
command until that date. 

On the 9th of April a terrible snow-storm came on 
while the troops were encamped waiting for the bead men 
of the various tribes to arrive. Custer says: "It was our 
good fortune to be in camp rather than on the march ; had 
it been otherwise, we could not well have escaped without 
loss of life. The cavalry horses suffered severely, and 
were only preserved by doubling their rations of oats, 
while to prevent their being frozen during the intensely 
cold night which followed, the guards were instructed to 
pass along the picket lines with a whip, and keep the 
horses moving constantly. The snow was eight inches 
deep. The council, which was to take place the next day, 
had to be postponed until the return of good weather. 
Now began the display of a kind of diplomacy for which 
the Indian is peculiar. The Cheyennes and a band of Sioux 
were encamped on Pawnee Fork, about thirty miles above 
Fort Larned. They neither desired to move nearer to us 
or have us approach nearer to them. On the morning of 



458 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

the 11th, they sent us word that they had started to visit 
us, but, discovering a large herd of buffalo near their camp, 
they had stopped to procure a supply of meat. This mes- 
sage was not received with much confidence, nor was a 
buffalo hunt deemed of sufficient importance to justify 
the Indians in breaking their engagement. General Han- 
cock decided, however, to delay another day, when, if the 
Indians still failed to come in, he would move his com- 
mand to the vicinity of their village and hold the confer- 
ence there. 

"Orders were issued on the evening of the 12th for the 
march to be resumed on the following day. Late in the 
evening two chiefs of the 'Dog-Soldiers,' a band composed 
of the most warlike and troublesome Indians on the plains, 
chiefly made up of Cheyennes, visited- our camp. They 
were accompanied by a dozen warriors, and expressed a 
desire to hold a conference with General Hancock, to 
which he assented. A large council-fire was built in 
front of the general's tent, and all the officers of his com- 
mand assembled there. A tent had been erected for the 
accommodation of the chiefs a short distance from the 
general's. Before they could feel equal to the occasion, 
and in order to obtain time to collect their thoughts, they 
desired that supper might be prepared for them, which 
was done. When finally ready, they advanced from their 
tent to the council-fire in single file, accompanied by their 
agent and an interpreter. Arrived at the fire, another 
brief delay ensued. No matter how pressing or momen- 
tous the occasion, an Indian invariably declines to engage 
in a council until he has filled his pipe and gone through 
with the important ceremony of a smoke. This attended 
to, the chiefs announced that they were ready 'to talk.' 
They were then introduced to the principal officers of the 
group, and seemed much struck with the flashy uniforms 
of the few artillery officers, who were present in all the 



HANCOCK'S EXPEDITION 459 

glory of red horsehair plumes, aiguillettes, etc. The chiefs 
seemed puzzled to determine whether these insignia des- 
ignated chieftains or medicine men. General Hancock 
began the conference by a speech, in which he explained 
to the Indians his purpose in coming to see them, and 
what he expected of them in the future. He particularly 
informed them that he was not there to make war, but to 
promote peace. Then, expressing his regrets that more 
of the chiefs had not visited him, he announced his inten- 
tion of proceeding on the morrow with his command to 
the vicinity of their village, and there holding a council 
with all the chiefs. Tall Bull, a fine, warlike-looking 
chieftain, replied to General Hancock, but his speech con- 
tained nothing important, being made up of allusions to 
the growing scarcity of the buffalo, his love for the white 
man, and the usual hint that a donation in the way of 
refreshments would be highly acceptable ; he added that 
he would have nothing new to say at the village. 

"Rightly concluding that the Indians did not intend 
to come to our camp, as they had at first agreed to, it was 
decided to move nearer their village. On the morning' 
following the conference our entire force, therefore, 
marched from Fort Larned up Pawnee Fork in the direc- 
tion of the main village, encamping the first night about 
twenty-one miles from Larned. Several parties of Indians 
were seen in our advance during the day, evidently watch- 
ing our movements, while a heavy smoke, seen to rise in 
the direction of the Indian village, indicated that something 
more than usual was going on. The smoke, we afterward 
learned, arose from burning grass. The Indians, thinking 
to prevent us from encamping in their vicinity, had set fire 
to and burned all the grass for miles, in the direction from 
which they expected us. Before we arrived at .our camp- 
ing-ground, we were met by several chiefs and warriors 
belonging to the Cheyennes and Sioux. Among the chiefs 



460 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

were Pawnee Killer, of the Sioux, and White Horse, of 
the Cheyennes. It was arranged that these chiefs should 
accept our hospitality and remain with us during the night, 
and in the morning all the chiefs of the two tribes then in 
the village were to come to General Hancock's head-quar- 
ters and hold a council. On the morning of the 14th, 
Pawnee Killer left our camp at an early hour, as he said 
for the purpose of going to the village to bring in the 
other chiefs to the council. Nine o'clock had been agreed 
upon as the time at which the council should assemble. 
The hour came, but the chiefs did not. Now an Indian 
council is not only often an important, but always an 
interesting, occasion. At this juncture, Bull Bear, an 
influential chief among the Cheyennes, came in and 
reported that the chiefs were on their way to our camp, 
but would not be able to reach it for some time. This 
was a mere artifice to secure delay. General Hancock 
informed Bull Bear that, as the chiefs could not arrive for 
some time, he would move his forces up the stream nearer 
the village, and the council could be held at our camp 
that night. To this proposition Bull Bear gave his con- 
sent. 

"At 11 A.M. we resumed the march, and had proceeded 
but a few miles when we witnessed one of the finest 
and most imposing military displays, according to the 
Indian art of war, which it has been my lot to behold. 
It was nothing more nor less than an Indian line of battle 
drawn directly across our line of march, as if to say, 
'Thus far and no further.' Most of the Indians were 
mounted; all were bedecked in their brightest colours, 
their heads crowned with the brilliant war-bonnet, their 
lances bearing the crimson pennant, bows strung, and 
quivers full of barbed arrows. In addition to these 
weapons, which, with the hunting-knife and tomahawk, 
are considered as forming the armament of the warrior, 



HANCOCK'S EXPEDITION 461 

each one was supplied with either a breech-loading rifle 
or revolver, sometimes with both, — the latter obtained 
through the wise forethought and strong love of fair play 
which prevails in the Indian department, which, seeing 
that its wards are determined to fight, is equally deter- 
mined that there shall be no advantage taken, but that 
the two sides shall be armed alike ; proving, too,, in this 
manner, the wonderful liberality of our government, 
which is not only able to furnish its soldiers with the 
latest style of breech-loaders to defend it and themselves, 
but is equally able and willing to give the same pattern 
of arms to the common foe. The only difference is, that 
if the soldier loses his weapon, he is charged double price 
for it, while to avoid making any such charge against the 
Indian, his weapons are given him without conditions 
attached. 

"In the line of battle before us there were several hun- 
dred Indians, while further to the rear and at different 
distances were other organized bodies, acting apparently 
as reserves. Still further behind were small detachments 
who seemed to perform the duty of couriers, and were held 
in readiness to convey messages to the village. The 
ground beyond was favourable for an extended view, and 
as far as the eye could reach, small groups of individuals 
could be seen in the direction of the village ; these were 
evidently parties of observation, whose sole object was to 
learn the result of our meeting with the main body and 
hasten with the news to the village. 

" For a few moments appearances seemed to foreshadow 
anything but a peaceable issue. The infantry was in the 
advance, followed closely by the artillery, while my com- 
mand, the cavalry, was marching on the flank. General 
Hancock, who was riding with his staff at the head of the 
column, coming suddenly in view of the wild, fantastic 
battle array, which extended far to our right and left, and 



462 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

was not more than half a mile in our front, hastily sent 
orders to the infantry, artillery, and cavalry to form in line 
of battle, evidently determined that, if Avar was intended, 
we should be prepared. The cavalry being the last to 
form on the right, came into line on a gallop, and with- 
out waiting to align the ranks carefully, the command 
was given to 'Draw sabre.' As the bright blades flashed 
from their scabbards into the morning sunlight, and the 
infantry brought their muskets to a carry, a contrast was 
presented which, to a military eye, could but be striking. 
Here in battle array, facing each other, were the represent 
tatives of civilized and barbarous warfare. The one, with 
few modifications, stood clothed in the same rude style 
of dress, bearing the same patterned shield and weapon 
that his ancestors had borne centuries before ; the other 
confronted him in the dress and supplied with the imple- 
ments of war which an advanced stage of civilization had 
pronounced the most perfect. Was the comparative supe- 
riority of these two classes to be subjected to the mere 
test of war here? All was eager anxiety and expectation. 
Neither side seemed to comprehend the object or inten- 
tions of the other; each was waiting for the other to de- 
liver the first blow. A more beautiful battle-ground could 
not have been chosen. Not a bush or even the slightest 
irregularity of ground intervened between the two lines, 
which now stood frowning and facing each other. Chiefs 
could be seen riding along the line, as if directing and 
exhorting their braves to deeds of heroism. 

"After a few moments of painful suspense, General 
Hancock, accompanied by General A. J. Smith and other 
officers, rode forward, and through an interpreter invited 
the chiefs to meet us midway for the purpose of an inter- 
view. In response to this invitation, Roman Nose, bear- 
ing a white flag, accompanied by Bull Bear, White Horse, 
Gray Beard, and Medicine Wolf, on the part of the Chey- 



HANCOCK'S EXPEDITION 463 

ennes, and Pawnee Killer, Bad Wound, Tall-Bear-That- 
Walks-under-the-Ground, Left Hand, Little Bear, and 
Little Bull, on the part of the Sioux, rode forward to the 
middle of the open space between the two lines. Here 
we shook hands with all the chiefs, most of them exhibit- 
ing unmistakable signs of gratification at this apparently 
peaceful termination of our rencounter. General Hancock 
very naturally inquired the object of the hostile attitude 
displayed before us, saying to the chiefs that if war was 
their object, we were ready then and there to participate. 
Their immediate answer was that they did not desire war, 
but were peacefully disposed. They were then told that 
we would continue our march toward the village, and 
encamp near it, but would establish such regulations that 
none of the soldiers would be permitted to approach or dis- 
turb them. An arrangement was then effected by which 
the chiefs were to assemble at General Hancock's head- 
quarters as soon as our camp was pitched. The interview 
then terminated, and the Indians moved off in the direc- 
tion of their village, we following leisurely in the rear. 

"A march of a few miles brought us in sight of the vil- 
lage, which was situated in a beautiful grove on the bank 
of the stream up which we had been marching. It con- 
sisted of upwards of three hundred lodges, a small frac- 
tion over half belonging to the Cheyennes, the remainder 
to the Sioux. Like all Indian encampments, the ground 
chosen was a most romantic spot, and at the same time 
fulfilled in every respect the requirements of a good 
camping-ground; wood, water, and grass were abundant. 
The village was placed on a wide, level plateau, while 
on the north and west, at a short distance off, rose high 
bluffs, which admirably served as a shelter against the 
cold winds which at that season of the year prevail from 
those directions. Our tents were pitched within a mile 
of the village. Guards were placed between to prevent 



464 THE OLD SANTA EE TRAIL 

intrusion upon our part. We had scarcely pitched our 
tents when Roman Nose, Bull Bear, Gray Beard, and 
Medicine Wolf, all prominent chiefs of the Cheyenne 
nation, came into camp with the information that upon 
our approach their women and children had all fled from 
the village, alarmed by the presence of so many soldiers, 
and imagining a second Chivington massacre to be in- 
tended. General Hancock insisted that they should all 
return, promising protection and good treatment to all; 
that if the camp was abandoned, he would hold it respon- 
sible. The chiefs then stated their belief in their ability 
to recall the fugitives, could they be furnished with horses 
to overtake them. This was accordingly done, and two 
of them set out mounted on two of our horses. An agree- 
ment was also entered into at the same time, that one of 
our interpreters, Ed Gurrier, a half-breed Cheyenne, who 
was in the employ of the government, should remain in 
the village and report every two hours as to whether any 
Indians were leaving there. This was about seven o'clock 
in the evening. At half-past nine the half-breed returned 
to head-quarters with the intelligence that all the chiefs 
and warriors were saddling up to leave, under circum- 
stances showing that they had no intention of returning, 
such as packing up every article that could be carried with 
them, and cutting and destroying their lodges, — this last 
being done to obtain small pieces for temporary shelter. 

" I had retired to my tent, which was some few hundred 
yai'ds from that of General Hancock, when a messenger 
from the latter awakened me with the information that 
the general desired my presence in his tent. He briefly 
stated the situation of affairs, and directed me to mount 
my command as quickly and as silently as possible, sur- 
round the Indian village, and prevent the departure of its 
inhabitants. Easily said, but not so easity done. Under 
ordinary circumstances, silence not being necessary, I 



HANCOCK'S EXPEDITION 465 

could have returned to my camp, and by a few blasts from 
the trumpet, placed every soldier on his saddle almost as 
quickly as it has taken time to write this short sentence. • 
No bugle calls must be sounded ; we were to adopt some 
of the stealth of the Indians — how successfully remained 
to be seen. By this time every soldier and officer was in 
his tent sound asleep. First going to the tent of the 
adjutant and arousing him, I procured an experienced 
assistant in my labours. Next the captains of companies 
were awakened and orders imparted to them. They in turn 
transmitted the order to the first sergeant, who similarly 
aroused the men. It has often surprised me to observe 
the alacrity with which disciplined soldiers, experienced 
in campaigning, will hasten to prepare themselves for the 
march in an emergency like this. No questions are asked, 
no time is wasted. A soldier's toilet, on an Indian cam- 
paign, is a simple affair, and requires little time for arrang- 
ing. His clothes are gathered up hurriedly, no matter how, 
so long as he retains possession of them. The first object 
is to get his horse saddled and bridled, and until this is 
done his own dress is a matter of secondary importance, 
and one button or hook must do the duty of half a dozen. 
When his horse is ready for the mount, the rider will be 
seen completing his own equipment; stray buttons will re- 
ceive attention, arms will be overhauled, spurs restrapped ; 
then, if there still remain a few spare moments, the homely 
black pipe is filled and lighted, and the soldier's prepara- 
tion is complete. 

" The night was all that could be desired for the success 
of our enterprise. The air was mild and pleasant; the 
moon, although nearly full, kept almost constantly behind 
the clouds, as if to screen us in our hazardous undertaking. 
I say hazardous, because none of us imagined for one mo- 
ment that if the Indians discovered us in our attempt to 
surround them and their village, we should escape without 
•2 H 



466 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

a fight — - a fight, too, in which the Indians, sheltered 
behind the trunks of the stately forest trees under which 
their lodges were pitched, would possess all the advan- 
tage. General Hancock, anticipating that the Indians 
would discover our approach, and that a fight would en- 
sue, ordered the artillery and infantry under arms, to 
await the result of our moonlight adventure. My com- 
mand was soon in the saddle, and silently making its way 
toward the village. Instructions had been given for- 
bidding all conversation except in a whisper. Sabres were 
disposed of to prevent clanging. Taking a camp-fire which 
we could see in the village as our guiding j3oint, we made 
a detour so as to place the village between ourselves and 
the infantry. Occasionally the moon woidd peep out from 
the clouds and enable us to catch a hasty glance at the 
village. Here and there under the thick foliage we could 
see the white, conical-shaped lodges. Were the inmates 
slumbering, unaware of our close proximity, or were their 
dusky defenders concealed, as well they might have been, 
along the banks of the Pawnee, quietly awaiting our 
approach, and prepared to greet us with their well-known 
war-whoop ? These were questions that were probably 
suggested to the mind of each individual of my command. 
If we were discovered approaching in the stealthy, suspi- 
cious manner which characterized our movements, the 
hour being midnight, it would require a more confiding 
nature than that of the Indian to assign a friendly or 
peaceful motive to our conduct. The same flashes of 
moonlight which gave us hurried glimpses of the village 
enabled us to see our own column of horsemen stretching 
its silent length far into the dim darkness, and winding 
its course, like some huge anaconda about to envelop its 
victim. 

" The method by which it was determined to establish a 
cordon of armed troopers about the fated village, was to 



HANCOCK'S EXPEDITION 467 

direct the march in a circle, with the village in the centre, 
the commanding officer of each rear troop halting his com- 
mand at the proper point, and deploying his men similarly 
to a line of skirmishers — the entire circle, when thus 
formed, facing toward the village, and distant from it per- 
haps a few hundred yards. No sooner was our line com- 
pletely formed than the moon, as if deeming darkness no 
longer essential to our success, appeared from behind her 
screen and lighted up the entire scene. And beautiful it 
was ! The great circle of troops, each individual of which 
sat on his steed silent as a statue, the dense foliage of 
the cotton trees sheltering the bleached, skin-clad lodges 
of the red men, the little stream in the midst murmuring 
undisturbedly in its channel, all combined to produce an 
artistic effect, as striking as it was interesting. But we 
were not there to study artistic effects. The next step was 
to determine whether we had captured an inhabited vil- 
lage, involving almost necessarily a severe conflict with 
its savage occupants, or whether the red man had again 
proven too wily and crafty for his more civilized brothers. 
" Directing the entire line of troopers to remain mounted 
with carbines held at the ' Advance,' I dismounted, and 
taking with me Gurrier, the half-breed, Dr. Coates, one of 
our medical staff, and Lieutenant Moylan, the adjutant, we 
proceeded on our hands and knees toward the village. 
The prevailing opinion was that the Indians were still 
asleep. I desired to approach near enough to the lodges 
to enable the half-breed to hail the village in the Indian 
tongue, and if possible establish friendly relations at once. 
It became a question of prudence with us, which we dis- 
cussed in whispers as we proceeded on our ' Tramp, tramp, 
tramp, the boys are creeping,' 1 how far from our horses and 
how near to the village we dared to go. If so few of us 
were discovered entering the village in this questionable 
manner, it was more than probable that, like the returners 



468 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

of stolen property, we should be suitably rewarded and 
no questions asked. The opinion of Gurrier, the half- 
breed, was eagerly sought for and generally deferred to. 
His wife, a full-blooded Cheyenne, was a resident of the 
village. This with him was an additional reason for 
wishing a peaceful termination to our efforts. When we 
had passed over two-thirds of the distance between our 
horses and the village, it was thought best to make our 
presence known. Thus far not a sound had been heard to 
disturb the stillness of the night. Gurrier called out at 
the top of his voice in the Cheyenne tongue. The only 
response came from the throats of a score or more of 
Indian dogs which set up a fierce barking. At the same 
time one or two of our party asserted that they saw figures 
moving beneath the trees. Gurrier repeated his summons, 
but with no better results than before. 

"A hurried consultation ensued. The presence of so 
many dogs in the village was regarded bj" the half-breed 
as almost positive assurance that the Indians were still 
there. Yet it was difficult to account for their silence. 
Gurrier in a loud tone repeated who he was, and that our 
mission was friendly. Still no answer. He then gave it 
as his opinion that the Indians were on the alert, and were 
probably waiting in the shadow of the trees for us to 
approach nearer, when they would pounce upon us. This 
comforting opinion induced another conference. We must 
ascertain the truth of the matter ; our party could do this 
as well as a larger number, and to go back and send 
another party in our stead could not be thought of. 

" Forward ! was the verdict. Each one grasped his re- 
volver, resolved to do his best, whether it was in running 
or fighting. I think most of us would have preferred to 
take our own chances at running. We had approached 
near enough to see that some of the lodges were detached 
some distance from the main encampment. Selecting the 



HANCOCK'S EXPEDITION 469 

nearest of these, we directed our advance on it. While 
all of us were full of the spirit of adventure, and were 
further encouraged with the idea that we were in the dis- 
charge of our duty, there was scarcely one of us who would 
not have felt more comfortable if we could have got back 
to our horses without loss of pride. Yet nothing, under 
the circumstances, but a positive order would have induced 
any one to withdraw. ■ 

" Cautiously approaching, on all fours, to within a few 
yards of the nearest lodge, occasionally halting and listen- 
ing to discover whether the village was deserted or not, 
we finally decided that the Indians had fled before the 
arrival of the cavalry, and that none but empty lodges 
were before us. This conclusion somewhat emboldened 
as well as accelerated our progress. Arriving at the first 
lodge, one of our party raised the curtain or mat which 
served as a door, and the doctor and myself entered. The 
interior of the lodge was dimly lighted by the dying em- 
bers of a small fire built in the centre. All around us 
were to be seen the usual adornments and articles which 
constitute the household effects of an Indian family. 
Buffalo-robes were spread like carpets over the floor; 
head-mats, used to recline on, were arranged as if for the 
comfort of their owners ; parfliches, a sort of Indian band- 
box, with their contents apparently undisturbed, were 
carefully stowed away under the edges or borders of 
the lodge. These, with the door-mats, paint-bags, raw- 
hide ropes, and other articles of Indian equipment, were 
left as if the owners had only absented themselves for a 
brief period. To complete the picture of an Indian lodge, 
over the fire hung a camp-kettle, in which, by means of the 
dim light of the fire, we could see what had been intended 
for the supper of the late occupants of the lodge. The 
doctor, ever on the alert to discover additional items 
of knowledge, whether pertaining to history or science, 



470 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

snuffed the savoury odours which arose from the dark re- 
cesses of the mysterious kettle. Casting about the lodge 
for some instrument to aid him in his pursuit of know- 
ledge, he found a horn spoon, with which he began his in- 
vestigation of the contents, finally succeeding in getting 
possession of a fragment which might have been the half 
of a duck or rabbit, judging from its size merely. ' Ah ! ' 
said the doctor, in his most complacent manner, ' here is the 
opportunity I have long been waiting for. I have often 
desired to test the Indian mode of cooking. What do 
you suppose this is ? ' holding up the dripping morsel. 
Unable to obtain the desired information, the doctor, whose 
naturally good appetite had been sensibly sharpened by 
his recent exercise, set to with a will and ate heartily 
of the mysterious contents of the kettle. He was only 
satisfied on one point, that it was delicious — a dish fit for 
a king. Just then Gurrier, the half-breed, entered the 
lodge. He could solve the mystery, having spent years 
among the Indians. To him the doctor appealed for in- 
formation. Fishing out a huge piece, and attacking it 
with the voracity of a hungry wolf, he was not long in 
determining what the doctor had supped heartily upon. 
His first words settled the mysteiy : ' Why, this is dog.' 
I will not attempt to repeat the few but emphatic words 
uttered by the heartily disgusted member of the medical 
fraternity as he rushed from the lodge. 

" Other members of our small party had entered other 
lodges, only to find them, like the first, deserted. But 
little of the furniture belonging to the lodges had been 
taken, showing how urgent and hasty had been the flight 
of the owners. To aid in the examination of the village, 
reinforcements were added to our party, and an explora- 
tion of each lodge was determined upon. At the same 
time a messenger was despatched to General Hancock, in- 
forming him of the flight of the Indians. Some of the 



HANCOCK'S EXPEDITION 471 

lodges were closed by having brush or timber piled up 
against the entrance, as if to preserve the contents. 
Others had huge pieces cut from their sides, these pieces 
evidently being carried away to furnish temporary shelter 
for the fugitives. In most of the lodges the fires were 
still burning. I had entered several without discovering 
anything important. Finally, in company with the doctor, 
I arrived at one the interior of which was quite dark, the 
fire having almost died out. Procuring a lighted fagot, 
I prepared to explore it, as I had done the others ; but no 
sooner had I entered the lodge than my fagot failed me, 
leaving me in total darkness. Handing it to the doctor 
to be relighted, I began to feel my way about the interior 
of the lodge. I had almost made the circuit when my 
hand came in contact with a human foot; at the same 
time a voice unmistakably Indian, and which evidently 
came from the owner of the foot, convinced me that I was 
not alone. My first impressions were that in their hasty 
flight the Indians had gone off, leaving this one asleep. 
My next, very naturally, related to myself. I would 
gladly have placed myself on the outside of the lodge, and 
there matured plans for interviewing its occupant; but 
unfortunately to reach the entrance of the lodge, I must 
either pass over or around the owner of the before-men- 
tioned foot and voice. Could I have been convinced that 
among its other possessions there was neither tomahawk 
nor scalping-knife, pistol nor war-club, or any similar ar- 
ticle of the noble red-man's toilet, I would have risked an 
attempt to escape through the low narrow opening of the 
lodge ; but who ever saw an Indian without one or all of 
these interesting trinkets? Had I made the attempt, I 
should have expected to encounter either the keen edge 
of the scalping-knife or the blow of the tomahawk, and to 
have engaged in a questionable struggle for life. This 
would not do. I crouched in silence for a few moments, 



472 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

hoping the doctor would return with the lighted fagot. . I 
need not say that each succeeding moment spent in the 
darkness of that lodge seemed an age. I could hear a 
alight movement on the part of my unknown neighbour, 
which did not add to my comfort. Why does not the 
doctor return? At last I discovered the approach of a 
light on the outside. When it neared the entrance, I called 
the doctor and informed him that an Indian was in the 
lodge, and that he had better have his weapons ready for 
a conflict. I had, upon discovering the foot, drawn my 
hunting-knife from its scabbard, and now stood waiting 
the denouement. With his lighted fagot in one hand and 
cocked revolver in the other, the doctor cautiously entered 
the lodge. And there directly between us, wrapped in a 
buffalo-robe, lay the cause of my anxiety, — a little Indian 
girl, probably ten years old ; not a full-blood, but a half- 
breed. She was terribly frightened at finding herself in 
our hands, with none of her people near. Other parties 
in exploring the deserted village found an old, decrepit 
Indian of the Sioux tribe, who had also been deserted, 
owing to his infirmities and inability to travel with the 
tribe. Nothing 1 was gleaned from our search of the village 
which might indicate the direction of the flight. General 
Hancock, on learning the situation of affairs, despatched 
some companies of infantry with orders to replace th& 
cavalry and protect the village and its contents from dis- 
turbance until its final disposition could be determined 
upon, and it was decided that with eight troops of cavalry 
I should start in pursuit of the Indians at early dawn on 
the following morning. 

" The Indians, after leaving their village, went up on 
the Smoky, Hill, and committed the most horrible depreda- 
tions upon the scattered settlers in that region. Upon 
this news, General Hancock issued the following order: — • 
■ As a punishment of the bad faith practised by the 



U 4 



HANCOCK'S EXPEDITION 473 

Cheyennes and Sioux who occupied the Indian village at 
this place, and as a chastisement for murders and dep- 
redations committed since the arrival of the command 
at this point, by the people of these tribes, the village! 
recently occupied by them, which is now in our .hands, 
will be utterly destroyed.' 

The Cheyennes, Arapahoes, and Apaches had been 
united under one agency; the Kiowas and Comanches 
under another. As General Hancock's expedition had 
reference to all these tribes, he had invited both the agents 
to accompany him into the Indian country and be present 
at all interviews with the representatives of these tribes, 
for the purpose, as the invitation stated, of showing the 
Indians ' that the officers of the government are acting in 
harmony.' 

" In conversation with the general the agents admitted 
that Indians had been guilty of all the outrages charged 
against them, but each asserted the innocence of the par- 
ticular tribes under his charge, and endeavoured to lay 
their crimes at the door of their neighbours. 

" Here was positive evidence from the agents themselves 
that the Indians against whom we were operating were 
deserving of severe punishment. The only conflicting 
portion of the testimony was as to which tribe was most 
guilty. Subsequent events proved, however, that all of 
the five tribes named, as well as the Sioux, had combined 
for a general war throughout the plains and along our 
frontier. Such a war had been threatened to our post 
commanders along the Arkansas on many occasions during 
the winter. The movement of the Sioux and Cheyennes 
toward the north indicated that the principal theatre of 
military operations during the summer would be between 
the Smoky Hill and Platte rivers. General Hancock 
accordingly assembled the principal chiefs of the Kiowas 
and Arapahoes in council at Fort Dodge, hoping to induce 



474 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

them to remain at peace and observe their treaty obliga- 
tions. 

" The most prominent chiefs in council were Satanta, 
Lone Wolf, and Kicking Bird of the Kiowas, and Little 
Raven and Yellow Bear of the Arapahoes. During the 
council extravagant promises of future good behaviour 
were made by these chiefs. So effective and convincing 
was the oratorical effort of Satanta, that at the termination 
of his address, the department commander and his staff pre- 
sented him with the uniform coat, sash, and hat of a major- 
general. In return for this compliment, Satanta, within 
a few weeks, attacked the post at which the council was 
held, arrayed in his new uniform." 

In the spring of 1878, the Indians commenced a series 
of depredations along the Santa Fe Trail and against the 
scattered settlers of the frontier, that were unparalleled 
in their barbarity. General Alfred Sully, a noted Indian 
fighter, who commanded the district of the Upper Arkansas, 
early concentrated a portion of the Seventh and Tenth 
Cavalry and Third Infantry along the line of the Old 
Santa Fe' Trail, and kept out small expeditions of scouting 
parties to protect the overland coaches and freight cara- 
vans ; but the troops effected very little in stopping the 
devilish acts of the Indians, who were now fully deter- 
mined to carry out their threats of a general war, which 
culminated in the winter expedition of General Sheridan, 
who completely subdued them, and forced all the tribes on 
reservations ; since which time there has never been any 
trouble with the plains Indians worthy of mention. 1 

General Sully, about the 1st of September, with eight 
companies of the Seventh Cavalry and five companies of 

1 See Sheridan's Memoirs, Custer's Life on the Plains, and Buffalo 
Bill's book, in which all the stirring events of that campaign — nearly 
every fight of which was north or far south of the Santa Fe Trail — are 
graphically told. 



HANCOCK'S EXPEDITION 475 

infantry, left Fort Dodge, on the Arkansas, on a hurried 
expedition against the Kiowas, Arapahoes, and Cheyennes. 
The command marched in a general southeasterly direc- 
tion, and reached the sand hills of the Beaver and Wolf" 
rivers, by a circuitous route, on the fifth day. When 
nearly through that barren region, they were attacked by 
a force of eight hundred of the allied tribes under the 
leadership of the famous Kiowa chief, Satanta. A running 
fight was kept up with the savages on the first day, in 
which two of the cavalry were killed and one wounded. 

That night the savages came close enough to camp to 
fire into it (an unusual proceeding in Indian warfare, as 
they rarely molest troops during the night), I now quote 
from Custer again : " The next day General Sully directed 
his march down the valley of the Beaver; but just as his 
troops were breaking camp, the. long wagon-train having 
already 'pulled out,' and the rear guard of the command 
having barely got into their saddles, a party of between 
two and three hundred warriors, who had evidently in 
some inexplicable manner contrived to conceal themselves 
until the proper moment, dashed into the deserted camp 
within a few yards of the rear of the troops, and succeeded 
in cutting off a few led horses and two of the cavalrymen 
who, as is often the case, had lingered a moment behind 
the column. 

"Fortunately, the acting adjutant of the cavalry, Brevet 
Captain A. E. Smith, was riding at the rear of the column 
and witnessed the attack of the Indians. Captain Hamil- 
ton, 1 of the Seventh Cavalry, was also present in command 
of the rear guard. Wheeling to the rightabout, he at once 
prepared to charge the Indians and attempt the rescue of 
the two troopers who were being carried- off before his 
very eyes. At the same time, Captain Smith, as rep- 

1 A grandson of Alexander Hamilton ; killed at the battle of the 
Washita, in the charge on Black Kettle's camp under Custer. 
t 



476 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

resentative of the commanding officer of the cavalry, 
promptly took the responsibility of directing a squadron 
of the cavalry to wheel out of column and advance in 
support of Captain Hamilton's guard. With this hastily 
formed detachment, the Indians, still within pistol-range, 
but moving off with their prisoners, were gallantly charged 
and so closely pressed that they were forced to relinquish 
one of their prisoners, but not before shooting him through 
the body and leaving him on the ground, as they supposed, 
mortally wounded. The troops continued to charge the 
retreating Indians, upon whom they were gaining, deter- 
mined, if possible, to effect the rescue of their remaining 
comrade. They were advancing down one slope while the 
Indians, just across a ravine, were endeavouring to escape 
with their prisoner up the opposite ascent, when a per- 
emptory order reached the officers commanding the pursu- 
ing force to withdraw their men and reform the column at 
once. The terrible fate awaiting the unfortunate trooper 
carried off by the Indians spread a deep gloom throughout 
the command. All were too familiar with the horrid cus- 
toms of the savages to hope for a moment that the captive 
would be reserved for aught but a slow, lingering death, 
from tortures the most horrible and painful which blood- 
thirsty minds could suggest. Such was the truth in his 
case, as Ave learned afterwards when peace (?) was estab- 
lished with the tribes then engaged in war. 

"The expedition proceeded down the valley of the 
Beaver, the Indians contesting every step of the way. In 
the afternoon, about three o'clock, the troops arrived at a 
ridge of sand hills a few miles southeast of the present 
site of Camp Supply, where quite a determined engage- 
ment took place between the command and the three 
tribes, Cheyennes, Arapahoes, and Kiowas, the Indians 
being the assailants. The Indians seemed to have re- 
served their strongest efforts until the troops and train 



HANCOCK'S EXPEDITION 477 

had advanced well into the sand hills, when a most obsti- 
nate resistance — and well conducted, too — was offered 
to the farther advance of the troops. It was evident that 
the troops were probably nearing the Indian villages, and 
that this opposition to further advance was to save them. 
The character of the country immediately about the troops 
was not favourable to the operations of cavalry; the surface 
of the rolling plain was cut up by irregular and closely 
located sand hills, too steep and sandy to allow cavalry 
to move with freedom, yet capable of being easily cleared 
of savages b) r troops righting on foot. The Indians took 
post on the hilltops and began a harassing fire on the 
troops and train. Captain Yates, with a single troop of 
cavalry, was ordered forward to drive them away. This 
was a proceeding which did not seem to meet with favour 
from the savages. Captain Yates could drive them wher- 
ever he encountered them, but they appeared in increased 
numbers at some other threatened point. After contend- 
ing in this non-effective manner for a couple of hours, the 
impression arose in the minds of some that the train could 
not be conducted through the sand hills in the face of the 
strong opposition offered by the Indians. The order was 
issued to turn about and withdraw. The order was exe- 
cuted, and the troop and train, followed by the exultant 
Indians, retired a few miles to the Beaver, and encamped for 
the night on the ground afterward known as Camp Supply. 
"Captain Yates had caused to be brought off the field, 
when his troop was ordered to retire, the body of one of 
his men, who had been slain in the fight. As the troops 
were to continue their backward march next day, and it 
was impossible to transport the dead body further, Captain 
Yates ordered preparations made for interring it in camp 
that night. Knowing that the Indians would thoroughly 
search the deserted camp-ground almost before the troops 
should get out of sight, and would be quick, with their 



478 THE OLD SANTA EE TRAIL 

watchful eyes, to detect a grave, and, if successful in dis- 
covering it, would unearth the body in order to get the 
scalp, directions were given to prepare the grave after 
nightfall; and the spot selected would have baffled any 
one but an Indian. The grave was dug under the picket 
line to which the seventy or eighty horses of the troop 
would be tethered during the night, so that their constant 
tramping and pawing should completely cover up and 
obliterate all traces. The following morning, even those 
who had performed the sad rites of burial to their fallen 
comrade could scarcely have indicated the exact location 
of the grave. Yet when we returned to that point a few 
weeks later, it was discovered that the wily savages had 
found the place, unearthed the body, and removed the scalp 
of their victim on the day following the interment." 1 

After leaving the camp at Supply, the Indians gradually 
increased their force, until they mustered about two 
thousand warriors. For four days and nights they 
hovered around the command, und by the time it reached 
Mulberry Creek there were not one thousand rounds of 
ammunition left in the whole force of troopers and infan- 
trymen. At the creek, the incessant charges of the now 
infuriated savages compelled the troops to use this small 
amount held in reserve, and they found themselves almost 
at the mercy of the Indians. But before they were abso- 
lutely defenceless, Colonel Keogh had sent a trusty 
messenger in the night to Fort Dodge for a supply of 
cartridges to meet the command at the creek, which for- 
tunately arrived there in time to save that spot from being 
a veritable "last ditch." 

1 This ends Custer's narrative. The following fight, which occurred a 
few days afterward, at the mouth of Mulberry Creek, twelve miles 
below Fort Dodge, and within a stone's throw of the Old Trail, was re- 
lated to me personally by Colonel Keogh, who was killed at the Rose- 
bud, in Custer's disastrous battle with Sitting Bull. We were both 
attached to General Sully's staff. 



HANCOCK'S EXPEDITION 



479 



The savages, in the little hut exciting encounter at the 
creek before the ammunition arrived, would ride up boldly 
toward the squadrons of cavalry, discharge the shots from 
their revolvers, and then, in their rage, throw them at the 
skirmishers on the flanks of the supply-train, while the 
latter, nearly out of ammunition, were compelled to sit 
quietly in their saddles, idle spectators of the extraordi- 
nary scene. 1 

Many of the Indians were killed on their ponies, how- 
ever, by those who were fortunate enough to have a few 
cartridges left; but none were captured, as the savages 
had taken their usual precaution to tie themselves to their 
animals, and as soon as dead were dragged away by them. 

1 It was in this fight that Colonel Keogh's celebrated horse Co- 
manche received his first wound. It will be remembered that Co- 
manche and a Crow Indian were the only survivors of that unequal 
contest in the valley of the Big Horn, commonly called the battle of 
the Rosebud, where Custer and his command was massacred. 




■Ji'mpSonj /%&/ 



CHAPTER XXIV 



SCENERY ON THE LINE OF THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL THE 

GREAT PLAINS THE ARKANSAS VALLEY OVER THE ROCKY 

MOUNTAINS INTO NEW MEXICO THE RATON RANGE THE 

SPANISH PEAKS SIMPSON'S REST FISHER'S PEAK RATON 

PEAK SNOWY RANGE PIKE'S PEAK RATON CREEK THE 

INVASION OF THE RAILROAD THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL A 

THING OF THE PAST 



HE tourist who to-day, in 

a palace car, surrounded 

by all the conveniences 

of our American railway 

service, commences his 

tour of the prairies at the 

Missouri River, enters 

classic ground the moment the 

train leaves the muddy flood of 

that stream on its swift flight 

toward the golden shores- of 

.the Pacific. 

He finds a large city at the 
very portals of the once far 
West, with all the bustle and 
energy which is so characteristic 
of American enterprise. 

Gradually, as he is whirled along the iron trail, the 
woods lessen ; he catches views of beautiful intervales ; a 
bright little stream flashes and foams in the sunlight as 
the trees grow fewer, and soon he emerges on the broad 

480 




INVASION OF THE RAILROAD 481 

sea of prairie, shut in only by the great circle of the 
heavens. 

Dotting this motionless ocean everywhere, like whitened 
sails, are quiet homes, real argosies ventured by the sturdy 
and industrious people who have fought their way through 
almost insurmountable difficulties to the tranquillity which 
now surrounds them. 

A few miles west of Tbpeka, the capital of Kansas, when 
the train reaches the little hamlet of Wakarusa, the track 
of the railroad commences to follow the route of the Old 
Santa Fe" Trail. At that point, too, the Oregon Trail 
branches off for the heavily timbered regions of the Colum- 
bia. Now begins the classic ground of the once famous 
highway to New Mexico; nearly every stream, hill, and 
wooded dell has its story of adventure in those days when 
the railroad was regarded as an impossibility, and the 
region beyond the Missouri as a veritable desert. 

After some hours' rapid travelling, if our tourist hap- 
pens to be a passenger on the "California Limited," the 
swift train that annihilates distance, he will pass by towns, 
hamlets, and immense cattle ranches, stopping only at 
county-seats, and enter the justly famous Arkansas valley 
at the city of Hutchinson. The Old Trail now passes a 
few miles north of this busy place, which is noted for its 
extensive salt works, nor does the railroad again meet with 
it until the site of old Fort Zarah is reached, forty-seven 
miles west of Hutchinson, though it runs nearly parallel 
to the once great highway at varying distances for the 
whole detour. 

The ruins of the once important military post may 
be seen from the car-windows on the right, as the train 
crosses the iron bridge spanning the Walnut, and here the 
Old Trail exactly coincides with the railroad, the track of 
the latter running immediately on the old highway. 

Three miles westward from the classic little Walnut the 
2 i 



482 THE OLD SANTA EE TRAIL 

Old Trail ran through what is now the Court House Square 
of the town of Great Bend; it may be seen from the station, 
and on that very spot occurred the terrible fight of Captains 
Booth and Hallowell in 1864. 

Thirteen miles further mountamward, on the right of 
the railroad, not far from the track, stands all that remains 
of the once dreaded Pawnee Rock. It lies just beyond 
the limits of the little hamlet bearing its name. It would 
not be recognized by any of the old plainsmen were they 
to come out of their isolated graves ; for it is only a dis- 
integrated, low mass of sandstone now, utilized for the 
base purposes of a corral, in which the village herd of 
milch cows lie down at night and chew their cuds, such 
peaceful transformation has that great civilizer, the loco- 
motive, wrought in less than two decades. 

Another five or six miles, and the train crosses Ash 
Creek, which, too, was once one of the favourite haunts of 
the Pawnee and Comanche on their predatory excursions, 
in the days when the mules and horses of passing freight 
caravans excited their cupidity. A short whirl again, and 
the town of Lamed, lying peacefully on the Arkansas and 
Pawnee Fork, is reached. Immediately opposite the centre 
of the street through which the railroad runs, and which 
was also the course of the Old Trail, lying in the Arkansas 
River, close to its northern bank, is a small thickly-wooded 
island, now reached by a bridge, that is famous as the battle- 
ground of a terrible conflict thirty years ago, between the 
Pawnees and Cheyennes, hereditary enemies, in which the 
latter tribe was cruelly defeated. 

The railroad bridge crosses Pawnee Fork at the precise 
spot where the Old Trail did. This locality has been the 
scene of some of the bloodiest encounters between the 
various tribes of savages themselves, and between them 
and the freight caravans, the overland coaches, and every 
other kind of outfit that formerly attempted the passage 



INVASION OF THE RAILROAD 488 

of the now peaceful stream. In fact, the whole region 
from Walnut Creek to the mouth of the Pawnee, which 
includes in its area Ash Creek and Pawnee Rock, seemed 
to be the greatest resort for the Indians, who hovered 
about the Santa Fe Trail for the sole purpose of robbery 
and murder ; it was a very lucky caravan or coach, indeed, 
that passed through that portion of the route without 
being attacked. 

All the once dangerous points of the Old Trail having 
been successively passed, — Cow Creek, Big and Little Coon, 
and Ash Creek, Fort Dodge, Fort Aubrey, 1 and Point of 
Rocks, — the tourist arrives at last at the foot-hills. At La 
Junta the railroad separates into two branches ; one going to 
Denver, the other on to New Mexico. Here, a relatively 
short distance to the northwest, on the right of the train, 
may be seen the ruins of Bent's Fort, the tourist having 
already passed the site of the once famous Big Timbers, 
a favourite winter camping-ground of the Cheyennes and 
Arapahoes; but everywhere around him there reigns such 
perfect quiet and pastoral beauty, he might imagine that 
the peaceful landscape upon which he looks had never been 
a bloody arena. 

I suggest to the lover of nature that he should cross the 
Raton Range in the early morning, or late in the afternoon ; 
for then the magnificent scenery of the Trail over the high 
divide into New Mexico assumes its most beautiful aspect. 

In approaching the range from the Old Trail, or now 
from the railroad, their snow-clad peaks may be seen at a 
distance of sixty miles. In the era of caravans and pack- 
trains, for hour after hour, as they moved slowly toward 
the goal of their ambition, the summit of the fearful 
pathway on the divide, the huge forms of the mountains 
seemed to recede, and yet ascend higher. On the next 
day's journey their outlines appeared more irregular and 
1 Now Kendal], a little village in Hamilton County, Kansas. 



484 THE OLD SANTA FE TRATL 

ragged. Drawing still nearer, their base presented a 
long, dark strip stretching throughout their whole course, 
ever widening until it seemed like a fathomless gulf, 
separating the world of reality from the realms of imagi- 
nation beyond. 

Another weary twenty miles of dusty travel, and the 
black void slowly dissolved, and out of the shadows lines 
of broken, sterile, ferruginous buttes and detached masses 
of rocks, whose soilless surface refuses sustenance, save to a 
few scattered, stunted pines and lifeless mosses, emerged to 
view. 

The progress of the weary-footed mules or oxen was now 
through ravines and around rocks ; up narrow paths which 
the melting snows have washed out; sometimes between 
beetling cliffs, often to their very edge, where hundreds of 
feet below the Trail the tall trees seemed diminished into 
shrubs. Then again the road led over an immense broad 
terrace, for thousands of yards around, with a bright 
lake gleaming in the refracted light, and brilliant Alpine 
plants waving their beautiful flowers on its margin. Still 
the coveted summit appeared so far off as to be beyond the 
range of vision, and it seemed as if, instead of ascending, 
the entire mass underneath had been receding, like the 
mountains of ice over which Arctic explorers attempt to 
reach the pole. Now the tortuous Trail passed through 
snow-wreaths which the winds had eddied into indenta- 
tions ; then over bright, glassy surfaces of ice and frag- 
ments of rocks, until the pinnacle was reached. Nearer, 
along the broad successive terraces of the opposite moun- 
tains, the evergreen pine, the cedar, with its stiff, angular 
branches, and the cottonwood, with its varied curves and 
bright colours, were crowded into bunches or strung into 
zigzag lines, interspersed with shrubs and mountain plants, 
among which the flaming cactus was conspicuous. To the 
right and left, the bare cones of the barren peaks rose in 



. , 




v,-> 



.. 



A TRAPPER AND HIS PONY 






INVASION OF THE RAILROAD 485 

multitude, with their calm, awful forms shrouded in snow, 
and their dark shadows reflected far into the valleys, like 
spectres from a chaotic world. 

In going through the Raton Pass, the Old Santa Fe" Trail 
meandered up a steep valley, enclosed on either side by 
abrupt hills covered with pine and masses of gray rock. 
The road ran along the points of varying elevations, now 
in the stony bed of Raton Creek, which it crossed fifty- 
three times, the sparkling, flitting waters of the bubbling 
stream leaping and foaming against the animals' feet as 
they hauled the great wagons of the freight caravans over 
the tortuous passage. The creek often rushed rapidly 
under large flat stones, lost to sight for a moment, then 
reappearing with a fresh impetus and dashing over its 
flinty, uneven bed until it mingled with the pure waters 
of Le Purgatoire. 

Still ascending, the scenery assumed a bolder, rougher 
cast; then sudden turns gave you hurried glimpses of the 
great valley below. A gentle dell sloped to the summit 
of the pass on the west, then, rising on the east by a suc- 
cession of terraces, the bald, bare cliff was reached, over- 
looking the whole region for many miles, and this is 
Raton Peak. 1 

The extreme top of this famous peak was only reached 
after more than an hour's arduous struggle. On the lofty 
plateau the caravans and pack-trains rested their tired 
animals. Here, too, the lonely trapper, when crossing 
the range in quest of beaver, often chose this lofty spot on 
which to kindle his little fire and broil juicy steaks of the 
black-tail deer, the finest venison in the world; but before 

1 Raton is the name given by the early Spaniards to this range, mean- 
ing both mouse and squirrel. It had its origin either in the fact that one 
of its several peaks bore a fanciful resemblance to a squirrel, or because 
of the immense numbers of that little rodent always to be found in its 
pine forests. 



486 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

he indulged in the savoury morsels, if he was in the least 
superstitious or devout, or inspired by the sublime scene 
around him, he lighted his pipe, and after saluting the 
elevated ridge on which he sat by the first whiff of the 
fragrant kinnikinick, Indian-fashion, he in turn offered 
homage in the same manner to the sky above him, the 
earth beneath, and to the cardinal points of the compass, 
and was then prepared to eat his solitary meal in a spirit 
of thankfulness. 

Far below this magnificent vantage-ground lies the 
valley of the Rio Las Animas Perdidas. On the other 
verge of the great depression rise the peerless, everlast- 
ingly snow-wreathed Spanish Peaks, 1 whose giant sum- 
mits are grim sentinels that for untold ages have wit- 
nessed hundreds of sanguinary conflicts between the wily 
nomads of the vast plains watered by the silent Arkansas. 

All around you snow-clad mountains lift their serrated 
crowns above the horizon, dim, white, and indistinct, like 
icebergs seen at sea by moonlight; others, nearer, more 
rugged, naked of verdure, and irregular in contour, seem 
to lose their lofty summits in the intense blue of the 
sky. 

Fisher's Peak, which is in full view from the train, was 
named from the following circumstance: Captain Fisher 
was a German artillery officer commanding a battery in 
General Kearney's Army of the West in the conquest 
of New Mexico and was encamped at the base of the peak 
to which he involuntarily gave his name. He was in- 
tently gazing at the lofty summit wrapped in the early 
mist, and not being familiar with the illusory atmospheric 
effects of the region, he thought that to go there would 
be merely a pleasant promenade. So, leaving word that 

1 In the beautiful language of the country's early conquerors, "Las 
Cumbres Espanolas," or "Las dos Hermanas" (The Two Sisters), and 
in the Ute tongue, " Wahtoya " (The Twins). 



INVASION OF THE RAILROAD 487 

he would return to breakfast, he struck out at a brisk 
walk for the crest. That whole day, the following night, 
and the succeeding day, dragged their weary hours on, 
but no tidings of the commanding officer were received 
at the battery, and ill rumours were current of his death 
by Indians or bears, when, just as his mess were about to 
take their seats at the table for the evening meal, their 
captain put in an appearance, a very tired but a wiser 
man. He started to go to the peak, and he went there! 

On the summit of another rock-ribbed elevation close 
by, the tourist will notice the shaft of an obelisk. It is 
over the grave of George Simpson, once a noted moun- 
taineer in the days of the great fur companies. For a 
long time he made his home there, and it was his dying 
request that the lofty peak he loved so well while living 
should be his last resting-place. The peak is known as 
"Simpson's Rest," and is one of the notable features of 
the rugged landscape. 

Pike's Peak, far away to the north, intensely white and 
silvery in the clear sky, hangs like a great dome high in 
the region of the clouds, a marked object, worthy to com- 
memorate the indefatigable efforts of the early voj'ageur 
whose name it bears. 

In this wonderful locality, both Pike's Peak and the 
snowy range over two hundred miles from our point of 
observation really seem to the uninitiated as if a brisk 
walk of an hour or two would enable one to reach them, 
so deceptive is the atmosphere of these elevated regions. 

About two miles from the crest of the range, yet over 
seven thousand feet above the sea-level, in a pretty little 
depression about as large as a medium-sized corn-field in 
the Eastern States, Uncle Dick Wooton lived, and here, 
too, was his toll-gate. The veteran mountaineer erected 
a substantial house of adobe, after the style of one of the 
old-time Southern plantation residences, a memory, per- 



488 THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 

haps, of his youth, when he raised tobacco in his father's 
fields in Kentucky. 1 

The most charming hour in which to be on the crest 
of Raton Range is in the afternoon, when the weather is 
clear and calm. As the night comes on apace in the dis- 
tant valley beneath, the evening shadows drop down, pen- 
cilled with broad bands of rosy light as they creep slowly 
across the beautiful landscape, while the rugged vista 
below is enveloped in a diffused haze like that which 
marks the season of the Indian summer in the lower great 
plains. Above, the sky curves toward the relatively 
restricted horizon, with not a cloud to dim its intense 
blue, nowhere so beautiful as in these lofty altitudes. 

The sun, however, does not always shine resplendently; 
there are times when the most terrific storms of wind, 
hail, and rain change the entire aspect of the scene. For- 
tunately, these violent bursts never last long; they vanish 
as rapidly as they come, leaving in their wake the most 
phenomenally beautiful rainbows, whose trailing splen- 
dours which they owe to the dry and rare air of the region, 
and its high refractory power, are gorgeous in the extreme. 

In 1872 the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad 
entered the valley of the Upper Arkansas. Twenty-four 
years ago, on a delicious October afternoon, I stood on the 
absolutely level plateau at the mouth of Pawnee Fork 
where that historic creek debouches into the great river. 
The remembrance of that view will never pass from my 
memory, for it showed a curious temporary blending of 
two distinct civilizations. One, the new, marking the 
course of empire in its restless march westward ; the other, 
that of the aboriginal, which, like a dissolving view, was 
soon to fade away and be forgotten. 

The box-elders and cottonwoods thinly covering the 
creek-bottom were gradually donning their autumn dress 

i 1 The house was destroyed by fire two or three years ago. 



INVASION OF THE RAILROAD 489 

of russet, and the mirage had already commenced its fan- 
tastic play with the landscape. On the sides and crests of 
the sparsely grassed sand hills south of the Arkansas a 
few buffaloes were grazing in company with hundreds of 
Texas cattle, while in the broad valley beneath, small 
flocks of graceful antelope were lying down, quietly rumi- 
nating their midday meal. 

In the distance, far eastwardly, a train of cars could be 
seen approaching ; as far as the eye could reach, on either 
side of the track, the virgin sod had been turned to the 
sun ; the " empire of the plough " was established, and the 
march of immigration in its hunger for the horizon had 
begun. 

Half a mile away from the bridge spanning the Fork, 
under the grateful shade of the largest trees, about twenty 
skin lodges were irregularly grouped ; on the brown sod 
of the sun-cured grass a herd of a hundred ponies were 
lazily feeding, while a troop of dusky little children were 
chasing the yellow butterflies from the dried and withered 
sunflower stalks which once so conspicuously marked the 
well-worn highway to the mountains. These Indians, the 
remnant of a tribe powerful in the years of savage sover- 
eignty, were on their way, in charge of their agent, to 
their new homes, on the reservation just allotted to them 
by the government, a hundred miles south of the Arkansas. 

Their primitive lodges contrasted strangely with the 
peaceful little sod-houses, dugouts, and white cottages of 
the incoming settlers on the public lands, with the villages 
struggling into existence, and above all with the rapidly 
moving cars ; unmistakable evidences that the new civili- 
zation was soon to sweep the red men before it like chaff 
before the wind. 

Farther to the west, a caravan of white-covered wagons 
loaded with supplies for some remote military post, the 
last that would ever travel the Old Trail, was slowly crawl- 



490 



THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL 



ing toward the setting sun. I watched it until only a 
cloud of dust marked its place low down on the horizon, 
and it was soon lost sight of in the purple mist that was 
rapidly overspreading the far-reaching prairie. 

It was the beginning of the end ; on the 9th of February, 
1880, the first train over the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa 
Fe Railroad arrived at Santa Fe and the Old Trail as a 
route of commerce was closed forever. The once great 
highway is now only a picture in the memory of the few 
who have travelled its weary course, following the wind- 
ings of the silent Arkansas, on to the portals that guard 
the rugged pathway leading to the shores of the blue 
Pacific. 




"ItKfkit 



INDEX 



Allyon, Vasquez de, 3. 

Annual Races of Taos Indians at Las 
Vegas, 250. 

An Old Freighter, 93. 

An Old-time Hunter, 206. 

An Old Trapper, 260. 

Apache Canon , 201. 

Armijo, General, 102, 110. 

Arrival of the Caravan at Santa Fe', 
313. 

Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Rail- 
road, 480. 

Attack upon Bryant's Party of Trad- 
ers, 67. 

Bad Wound, 463. 

Baker, Old Jim, 313, 333. 

Beard, 41. 

Becknell, Captain, 38. 

Beckwourth, James P., 338. 

Bell, Lieutenant David, 166. 

Bent, Charles, 183. 

Bent, William, George, Robert, and 

Charles, 389. 
Bent's Fort, 390, 402. 
Bienville, M. de, 7. 
Big Timbers, 233. 
Big Tree, 159. 
Boone, Colonel A. G., 157. 
Booth, Captain Henry, 432. 
Bridger, James, 327, 340. 
Brown, Baptiste, 133, 269. 
Bryant's Party of Traders, Attack 

upon, 67. 
" Buffalo Bill," 202, 210, 223, 366. 
Buffalo Bone Yard, 232. 
Buffalo, Range of, 203. 
Bull Bear, 460. 



Cabeca de Vaca, Alvar Nunez, 2. 

Caches, The, 39. 

Capilla de los Soldados, 18. 

Caravan corralled, 54. 

Carson, Kit, 23, 94, 163, 188, 208, 314, 

316, 375, 408. 
Chambers, 41. 
Charlevoix, 10. 

Chavez, Don Antonio Jose, 97. 
Chief and Medicine Man, 389. 
Chisholm, John, 429. 
Chouteau, Auguste P., 40. 
Church at Taos, 140. 
Cibola, Seven Cities of, 1. 
Coach, Old Way by the Overland, 455. 
Cody, William F. See " Buffalo Bill." 
Comanches, Fight with, 79. 
Cooke, Captain P. St. George, 47. 
Coronado, Francisco Vasquez de, 1, 2. 
Custer, General, 456. 

De Soto, 2, 3. 
Dodd, Belzy, 332. 
Dodge, General R. I., 228. 
Dog-Soldiers, 458. 
Dumont, 7. 

Emory, Lieutenant W. H., 104. 
Espinosa, the bandit, 358. 

First Railway Train, 490. 

Fort Dodge, Pow-wow at, 173, 421. 

Freighter, An Old, 93. 

Gerrard, 234. 
Gilson, Chris., 65. 
Glorieta, La, 186. 
Gore, Sir George, 331. 



491 



492 



INDEX 



Gray Beard, 462. 
Gregg, 50. 

Hallowell, Lieutenant, 435. 

Hancock, General, his Expedition, 456. 

Hatcher, John L., 423. 

Hennepin, Father, 43. 

Hermit Cave, Ruins of, 27. 

Hitt, William Y., 68. 

Hobbs, James, 362. 

Hobbs, John, 99. 

Hunter, An Old-time, 206. 

Indian Customs and Legends, 233. 
Indian Etiquette, 237. 
Indian of To-day, 422. 
Indian Pueblo, 277. 

Indians, Annual Races of, at Las 
Vegas, 250. 

Kearney, General, 102. 
Kicking Bird, 160, 175, 179, 182. 

La Glorieta, 186. 

La Lande, 28. 

La Salle, 2. 

Left Hand, 463. 

Leon, Juan Ponce de, 3. 

Leroux, Joaquin, 163. 

Little Bear, 463. 

Little Cow Creek Massacre, 417. 

Lujan, 'Don Diego de Vargas Zapata, 



Mail, First Overland, 146. 
Massacre at Fernandez de Taos, 118. 
Maxwell, L. B., 266, 317, 373. 
Maxwell's Manor House, 388. 
McKnight, 41. 
McNess and Monroe, 52. 
Medicine Wolf, 462. 
Mexican Horseman, 372. 
Mississippi, Navigation of, 142. 
Missouris, 8. 
Moscoso, Luis de, 4. 

Narvaez, Pamphilo de, 3. 
Nunez, Alvar, Cabeca de Vaca, 2. 



Old Spanish Palace, Santa Fe', 26. 

Old Way by the Overland Coach, 455. 

Old Wolf, 424. 

Onate, Don Juan de, 20. 

Osages, 8. 

Pack-train, Description of, Outfit, 55. 

Palatio del Gobernador, 16. 

Pawnee Killer, 460. 

Pawnee Rock, 403. 

Peacock, 169. 

Pecos, Bridge of the Rio, 66. 

Pike, Captain Zebulon, 28, 29. 

Pipe Stone, 245. 

Ponce de Leon, Juan, 3. 

Pursley, James, 28, 29. 

Quaker Policy, 178. 
Quivira, Kingdom of, 1. 

Rabbit Ear Mountain, 76. 
Railroad, Invasion of, 480. 
Railway, First Train, 490. 
Ranch, A Mexican, 15. 
Raton Pass, 347. 

Riley, Major Bennett, 46, 75, 76, 77. 
Ruins of Church at Pecos in 1846, 112. 
Ryus, W. H, 154, 158. 

San Jose, Valley of, 66. 

San Miguel Church, Santa Fe', 38. 

Santa Fe', 12. 

Santa Fe' Trade, Commencement of, 51. 

Satank, 168, 181, 185. 

Satanta, 141, 156, 172. 

Sheridan's Winter Campaign, 47. 

Sherman, Pat., 55. 

Shos-shones, 256. 

Simpson, George, 480. 

Simpson's Rest, 479. 

Smith, Buckingham, 1. 

Smith, Uncle John, 266, 279. 

Snively, Colonel, 94. 

Solitary Man's Peak, 431. 

Squaw and Pappoose, 278. 

Squaw unharnessing Team, 233. 

Street Scene in Santa Fe', 92, 

St. Vrain, Ceran, 389. 



INDEX 



493 



Sublette, Captain, 49, 51. 
Survey of Roarl from the Missouri to 
New Mexico, 44. 

Tall-Bear-That-Walks-Under-The- 

Ground, 463. 
Tall Bull, 45!l. 
Taos, Massacre at, 118. 
Taos, Pueblo de, 101. 
Taos, Valley of, 113. 
Teepee in the Kaw Valley, 37. 
Tobin, Tom, 163, 358. 
Trapper, An Old, 260. 
Trappers, 251. 
Twiggs, General, surrender, 188. 



Utes, 160. 

Valley of San Jose, 66. 

Wagon Mound, 422. 

War with Mexico, 102. 

Wharton, Captain, 47. 

White Horse, 460. 

White, murdered by Utes, 161. 

White Wolf, 166. 

Wife of an Indian Chief, 113. 

Williams, Captain Ezekiel, 30. 

Williams, Old Bill, 355. 

Wooton, Uncle Dick, 163, 341. 

Wright, Hon. R. M., 224. 



^^XtA